Blasphemous Soccer Balls
The U.S. military in Afghanistan 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 soccer balls for Afghan children from helicopters in an area of southeastern Afghanistan, all marked with flags of various countries.
A problem arose in that 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,” said a leading Afghan private daily Cheragh.
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. “We do regret any disturbances caused,” she said.
This begs the question, what doesn’t offend Islam? Simply existing as a non-Muslim offends Islam, so how can you win? Retrieve the soccer balls and give them to children who will appreciate them. Israeli children come to mind. I suppose all you can do now is file this one under no good deed goes unpunished and call it a day.