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Last Updated: Monday, 6 June, 2005, 13:34 GMT 14:34 UK
US citizens snap up free Korans
Protestors burning US flag
Mishandling reports sparked anti-US riots across the Muslim world
US interest in the Muslim holy book Koran has risen after reports of its mishandling at Guantanamo Bay, a Muslim charity has said in Washington.

The Council for American Islamic Relations (CAIR) said it had received over 5,000 requests for free copies over the last two weeks.

One copy was being requested almost every minute, it said.

Reports of the Koran's mishandling led to violent anti-US protests last month.

At least 15 people died in riots in Afghanistan after a magazine reported that US guards had deliberately mishandled the Koran at the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The magazine retracted its report but subsequent inquiries by the Pentagon found several instances of the Koran being mishandled by guards - as well as by detainees.


Following the controversy, CAIR - a Muslim organisation focused on increasing awareness of the Muslim faith in the US - had started a campaign titled "Explore the Koran".

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive," CAIR chief Nihad Awad said.

"It reflects a desire by ordinary Americans to better understand Islam and Muslims."

Among those who asked for a free copy is a police officer who works with the Muslim community, the charity said.

Others include Christian religious leaders "who wish to explain Islam to their congregations" and Americans of all faiths.

CAIR is requesting Muslims all over the world to sponsor free copies for those who wish to improve their knowledge of the book.

The organisation is one of America's largest Muslim civil liberties groups.

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