U.S. military regrets "blasphemous" balls for Afghans

#1
U.S. military regrets "blasphemous" balls for Afghans
Yahoo News
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KABUL (Reuters) - The U.S. military in Afghanistan on Monday expressed regret for a publicity campaign aimed at winning hearts and minds that ended up offending scores of Muslims.

U.S. troops on Friday dropped dozens of free footballs for soccer-mad Afghan children from helicopters in an area of southeastern Afghanistan, all marked with flags of various countries.

But the balls depicted the Saudi Arabian flag, which features the Islamic declaration of faith and includes the names of Allah and the prophet Mohammed.

The idea of kicking something bearing their names is considered deeply offensive to Muslims.

"This ball ... carries a message with it which, like an atom bomb, can cause carnage and insecurity in all parts of Afghanistan," a leading Afghan private daily, Cheragh, said on Monday.

Fawad Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Kabul, said: "Americans themselves create insecurity by ignoring religious sensitivity, it is against Islam.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. military in Afghanistan said the ball distribution was part of a "goodwill humanitarian aid mission ... for the enjoyment of Afghan children."

Captain Vanessa Bowman said the military had been unaware of the sensitivity of the issue.
 
#2
I can sort of see it, but that's not a problem that would have been obvious. Hopefully this will pass as quickly as possible.
 
#3
Chief_Joseph said:
I can sort of see it, but that's not a problem that would have been obvious. Hopefully this will pass as quickly as possible.
I disagree Chief. When you are trying to win hearts and minds, isn't natural to hire a couple of cultural experts to advice you as you go along? Surely, there is somebody in the payroll who is actually Muslim and knows a thing or two about the people whose hearts and minds we are trying to win?
 
#4
Devil_Dog said:
Chief_Joseph said:
I can sort of see it, but that's not a problem that would have been obvious. Hopefully this will pass as quickly as possible.
I disagree Chief. When you are trying to win hearts and minds, isn't natural to hire a couple of cultural experts to advice you as you go along? Surely, there is somebody in the payroll who is actually Muslim and knows a thing or two about the people whose hearts and minds we are trying to win?
or possibly a local agent provocateur planted this idea. A Saudi flag seems a strange thing to put on a football, unless they were sourced in Saudi - maybe they don't have a problem kicking Allah around a bit.

PB
 
#5
PassingBells said:
Devil_Dog said:
Chief_Joseph said:
I can sort of see it, but that's not a problem that would have been obvious. Hopefully this will pass as quickly as possible.
I disagree Chief. When you are trying to win hearts and minds, isn't natural to hire a couple of cultural experts to advice you as you go along? Surely, there is somebody in the payroll who is actually Muslim and knows a thing or two about the people whose hearts and minds we are trying to win?
or possibly a local agent provocateur planted this idea. A Saudi flag seems a strange thing to put on a football, unless they were sourced in Saudi - maybe they don't have a problem kicking Allah around a bit.

PB
They look like your standard,'free with a litre of four star' variety.



From:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/6964564.stm
 
#6
I've seen similar balls before. The idea is to put forward the idea of football/soccer as international sport, and of togetherness. I think that WAS the idea, culturally (or, they may have been the cheapest soccer balls). A muslim cultural expert may or may not have caught the implications, as there are so many different ways to interpret Islamic ideas.
 
#8
The yanks do have a problem with taking into account culural issues as they only see things from their point of view. Got dragged into some planning meetings for Ramadan at MNC-I and was surprised to find when I arrived not a single Iraqi or even a muslim present, the religious input was from a US chaplain. This was a working group to make policy recommendations to the 4*. There were plenty of muslims in theatre from coalition forces if there was a sensitivity to having Iraqis there but when it was suggested the response was blank looks.

Slightly off topic but it does indicate how something like this might have happened, a couple of middle ranking officers from the mid west thinking it would be a good idea and thinking they were being very worldly by using soccer balls.
 
#9
Just another elemental, well intentioned, fcuk up, Afghanistan has quite a stock pile these days.
 

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