Pentagon official visits Va. mosque to reiterate apology for burning of Quran in Afghanistan

STERLING, Va. — A senior Pentagon official apologized Friday to Washington-area Muslims for the burning of Qurans at a military base in Afghanistan.

Peter Lavoy, acting assistant secretary of defense for Asia and Pacific security affairs, said the military is investigating what occurred and that all 140,000 coalition troops in Afghanistan are being retrained in the handling of religious materials.

Lavoy apologized multiple times during a brief speech during prayer services at the ADAMS Center in Sterling, one of the largest mosques in the country.

“I come here today to apologize on behalf of the Department of Defense for the incident that took place in Afghanistan this week,” Lavoy told worshippers, saying the burnings were done “unknowingly and improperly.”

Not everyone who heard Lavoy’s speech was satisfied. Mauri Saalakhan of Silver Spring, Md., who operates the Peace Thru Justice Foundation and came to ADAMS Center to hear Lavoy’s remarks, said that an apology is helpful but insufficient. He said he simply does not believe that the Qurans were mistakenly burned and that the burnings of the Quran are relatively minor compared to the suffering that has been inflicted on the Afghan people as a result of the war.

“The sacrilege against human beings in the so-called war on terror is far more egregious,” Saalakhan said.

Kayak Defends Cutting Ties to ‘All-American Muslim’

Another company has pulled its ads from TLC’s controversial docu-series “All-American Muslim,” saying it did so because TLC “was not upfront with us about the nature of this show” and was deliberately “trying to pick a fight” over the series. The online travel company Kayak.com also says that its chief marketing officer watched a couple of episodes and thought they were lousy.

Kayak.com got swept up in the story about the decision by the giant home-improvement retail chain Lowe’s to yank its ads from the series, which is about five Muslim families in Dearborn, Mich. Lowe’s had become the target of a campaign by the conservative Florida Family Association, which said the show is “propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values.”

But on Wednesday, Kayak’s chief marketing officer, Robert Birge, sought to distinguish his company’s decision from Lowe’s: He savaged the Silver Spring-based TLC over its handling of the show in a “We Handled This Poorly” blog post on Kayak’s Web site.

“When TLC pitched ‘All-American Muslim’ to advertisers, it was characterized as a fair-and-balanced look at the life of an American Muslim. However, what was not disclosed was the preexisting controversy surrounding race, religion and specifically the divide between the Muslim and Christian communities in Dearborn, Mich.,” Birge said in the statement e-mailed to The TV Column.