Sunday, August 26, 2007

Cultural faux pas

This moment of cultural insensitivity has a familiar ring to it.
A demonstration has been held in south- east Afghanistan accusing US troops of insulting Islam after they distributed footballs bearing the name of Allah.

The balls showed the Saudi Arabian flag which features the Koranic declaration of faith.

The US military said the idea had been to give something for Afghan children to enjoy and they did not realise it would cause offence.

The footballs were dropped from a helicopter in Khost province.

You'd think the people who organized such things would do, oh, I don't know, perhaps 15 minutes of research. Saudi Arabia has been complaining ever since the Saudi flag first made an appearance on World Cup souvenir balls. Surely the community affairs offices of the US military in Afghanistan have some grasp of the culture. OK. Maybe not.
Afghan MP Mirwais Yasini said: "To have a verse of the Koran on something you kick with your foot would be an insult in any Muslim country around the world."

A spokeswoman for the US forces in Afghanistan said they made "significant efforts to work with local leaders, mullahs and elders to respect their culture" and distributing the footballs was an effort to give a gift the Afghan children would enjoy.

"Unfortunately," she added, "there was something on those footballs we didn't immediately understand to be offensive and we regret that as we do not want to offend."
Yes, it does remind me of something.

Tell me you didn't know that was coming.

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