CAIRO - Seeking to avoid new desecrations of the Noble Qur'an, the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan are being trained on how to respect the Muslim holy book.
"It's probably a little too simplistic to suggest that it's a simple matter of do's and don'ts," Lt. Col. George Robinson, a senior officer in the Marine Corps' language and culture training programs, told the Los Angeles Times on Thursday, March 8.
"It's more a matter of why is the Qur'an an important."
A new training program was launched last week for the US-led NATO troops in Afghanistan on how to respect the Noble Qur'an.
The refresher training aims to prevent any desecration of the Muslim holy book by foreign troops in the Asian Muslim country.
Under the training, soldiers are advised not to throw the Muslim holy book.
It also asks soldiers to be cautious when dealing with Arabic texts, assuming material is sacred if there is any doubt over its religious significance."
The training came after Afghan laborers found charred copies of the Noble Qur'an while collecting rubbish at Bagram airbase in Kabul last month.
The burning sparked deadly protests across Afghanistan, which left at least 30 people dead.
US President Barack Obama and NATO commanders have apologized for the Qur'an burning, describing it as a mistake.
A NATO investigation found that five US soldiers were responsible for the burning, but said the incident was not deliberate and was the result of miscommunication.
Similar incidents of Qur'an desecration in the past have caused deep divisions and resentment among Afghans towards the tens of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Seven foreign UN workers were killed during protests that raged across Afghanistan for three days in April 2011 after a US pastor burned the Qur'an in Florida.
Muslims consider the Qur'an the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence. Desecration is considered one of the worst forms of blasphemy.
But experts cast doubts that the training would prevent future desecration of the Muslim holy book by foreign troops.
"It makes culture into a set of arbitrary rules. You don't understand why," said Montgomery McFate, an anthropologist who has worked closely with the US Defense Department.
"The Bible is not considered itself a holy object, and unless you'd grown up in a religious tradition where that was true, you wouldn't understand the way that Muslims feel about the Qur'an."
US troops were engulfed in several incidents of desecrating the Muslim holy book in the past years.
In 2005, Newsweek reported that a copy of the Noble Qur'an was flushed down a toilet in the infamous Guantanamo Bay.
In 2008, a US soldier was found using the Noble Qur'an as a training target.
Rochelle Davis, a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, opines that cultural training could help prevent similar desecrations.
"Over the past decade we have created a military that is the strongest, most powerful military in the world, but we haven't been able to achieve what we wanted to achieve in Iraq and Afghan," she said."Culture and interacting with the populations has been one of the ways that they think it can happen."