CAIRO - A video footage showing American soldiers urinating at the dead bodies of Taliban fighters is sparking a storm of anger and condemnations from Muslims around the world.
"We condemn this apparent desecration of the dead as a violation of our nation's military regulations and of international laws of war prohibiting such disgusting and immoral actions, Nihad Awad, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said in a letter to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and e-mailed to OnIslam.net.
"If verified as authentic, the video shows behavior that is totally unbecoming of American military personnel and that could ultimately endanger other soldiers and civilians.
The video shows four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on three Taliban corpses.
One of the men jokes: "Have a nice day, buddy." Another makes a lewd joke.
We are shocked to see representatives of our great nation engaging in behavior that disrespects America, our values and our armed forces, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) said in an e-mailed statement to OnIslam.net.
This behavior is against the military's code of conduct as well and the Geneva Convention's rules on prisoners of war.
The US Marine Corps has said it will investigate the tape.
The NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan described the acts depicted in the video as "highly reprehensible" and "disgusting."
"The behavior depicted in this video is reprehensible and is not in keeping with the values of US Armed Forces," ISAF spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jimmie Cummings said.
Muslim groups warned that the behavior risks to fuel anti-America sentiments around the world.
Unfortunately, these types of actions can only serve to bring animosity to the United States as it diminishes the trust other nations and their citizens have put in us, ISNA said.
All human beings are endowed with sanctity and dignity in both life and death. The behavior evidenced in this video is morally reprehensible and should be condemned by the United States government in the strongest terms.
Muslim groups called on the Obama administration to investigate the video and punish those involved.
"We trust that this disturbing incident will be promptly investigated in a transparent manner and that appropriate actions will be taken based on the results of that investigation, said Awad.
Any guilty parties must be punished to the full extent allowed by the Uniform Code of Military Justice and by relevant American laws."
The Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC) also called for punishing the soldiers over the behavior.
These individuals' actions do not represent the best of what America stands for and tarnishes the service and dedications of our military, it said in a letter to Panetta.
It is important these individuals be reprimanded for the international community to see that we will not tolerate the desecration of human life in such a manner.
The video has also sparked anger inside war-torn Afghanistan.
"It is not a human action, it's a wild action that is too shameful for us to talk about," a Taliban spokesman told the BBC News Online.
The video is expected to complicate efforts to establish peace in Afghanistan, which US troops invaded in 2001 to topple the ruling Taliban and its ally Al-Qaeda.
"According to Islam and international law it's against humanity and it's illegal," Sayed Abdul Samad, an elderly man with a long white beard and a white turban, told Reuters.
Anti-American feelings have boiled over, or been whipped up, into violence several times in Afghanistan in recent years.
Protests over reports of the desecration of the Muslim holy book have twice sparked deadly riots.
"They've committed a crime. We don't want them in our country," said Feda Mohammad, a middle-aged man in jeans, a jacket and a woollen hat, when told about the tape.
"We don't like foreigners in our country and they have to leave."
Like several other city residents, Qaisullah, a 44-year-old shop keeper near the capital's Shah-e-dushamshera mosque, called for the soldiers in the video to be punished.
"The government has to discuss with the US government the prosecution of those soldiers so in future nobody will be able to make fun of Afghans," he said."I haven't seen the video but I'd say it will harm our country and peace talks. It starts just with footage on TV but will end up with demonstrations around the country and maybe the world.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net