Protest over Israel Quran abuse report

Palestinian prisoners at an Israeli prison have gone on hunger strike after reports accused Israeli soldiers of desecrating the Quran while searching Palestinian prisoners.

    Reports of Quran desecration have enraged Muslims

    Aljazeera's correspondent in the occupied territories reported that Palestinian prisoners at Megiddo prison, north of the West Bank city of Jenin, went on hunger strike for one day on Wednesday.

    Israeli Arab member of parliament Ahmed Tibi, who represents an Israeli Arab political party, said he received complaints from prisoners at the Megiddo prison that soldiers tore and stepped on three copies of the Quran - the Islamic holy book - while searching Palestinians and their possessions on Tuesday morning.

    "This is vulgar, primitive behaviour that cannot be allowed to happen," he said, calling for a special session of parliament to discuss the affair.

    Tibi said he called Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra to complain.

    However, Israeli Prisons Authority spokesman Ofer Lefler said there was no such desecration.

    Israeli denial

    Lefler said 260 soldiers went into the prison to search for weapons, setting off unrest.

    A soldier was inspecting an old copy of the Quran, according to Lefler, when three pages fell to the floor. The soldier put the pages back in the holy book, Lefler said, and that was the extent of the incident.

    "This is vulgar, primitive behaviour that cannot be allowed to happen"

    Ahmed Tibi,
    Israeli Arab politician

    Later the Prisons Authority issued a statement saying the whole incident was a "provocation" by the prisoners, and the incident never happened.

    The prisoners presented the book that was said to have been desecrated, the statement said, and officials discovered that pages from another book had been inserted.

    The extra pages were larger than the book and had not fallen out of a Quran.

    Worldwide protests

    The statement added that the search revealed cellular telephones, knives and other forbidden articles.

    Tibi has often been embroiled in controversies involving Israeli security forces.

    He was criticised by a parliamentary committee for an incident in which he slapped an officer at a West Bank roadblock.

    Israeli authorities have accused him of provoking police and soldiers in order to reap publicity, but he has denied the charges.

    A recent report of US soldiers desecrating the Quran at the lockup in Guantanamo, Cuba, set off deadly riots in the Muslim world.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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