US soldiers suspended
A US marine in Iraq has been removed from duty following claims that he handed out coins inscribed with biblical verses in Arabic. Residents in Falluja had complained that the coins were being distributed at a checkpoint, the US military said. US troops are forbidden from proselytising any religion.
A report from McClatchy News Service carried a photo of a silver coin it said had been distributed in the Iraqi city. Written in Arabic script on one side of the coin were the words: ‘Where will you spend eternity?’
On the other side, the news service said, there was a Bible verse: ‘For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish, but have eternal life. John 3:16.’
A military spokesman told McClatchy News Service that marines at the western gate in Falluja had been searched following a report about the coins. One man found with the coins was reassigned and would no longer be working in the central Anbar province, he said.
The military said coalition forces were prohibited from ‘proselytising any religion, faith or practices, and our troops are trained on those guidelines before they deploy’. The incident is still being investigated but the spokesman confirmed ‘appropriate action will be taken’ if claims about the coins are substantiated.
Recently an American soldier was sent home from Iraq after a Koran was found with bullet holes at a shooting range near Baghdad. The incident triggered a violent protest by more than 1000 people in Afghanistan in which three people died.