Quran Anti-Defilement Rule?

Maybe I'm missing something here... but why all this chatter about "mishandling" of the Quran?

from U.S. Confirms Gitmo Soldier Kicked Quran:

The Pentagon on Friday released new details about mishandling of the Quran at the Guantanamo Bay prison for terror suspects, confirming that a soldier deliberately kicked the Muslim holy book and that an interrogator stepped on a Quran and was later fired for "a pattern of unacceptable behavior."

All of the news I read on this seems to imply some general sentiment that this "mishandling" is somehow wrong. I don't get it. We can rip up Bibles and burn American flags (as we darn well should be able to do legally). So why is defiling the Quran a no-no?

Sure, the reports of it sparked some riots, but the "mishandling" didn't exactly cause riots - people got angry and made some bad choices and there was a riot. As far as I know, there haven't been any riots when American news shows images of foreigners burning an American flag. And even if there were, it would be the rioters' fault, not the flag-burners'.

I suspect that part of it has to do with the fact that we're talking about military guards, whose actions might be thought to reflect some official American/government anti-Islamic stance. There might be some validity to that. But on the other hand, we might view such actions as a sort of expediant means to reach some result - keeping prisoners in line, encouraging them to give up information, etc.

I suppose the issue is partly dependent on the question of what sorts of behaviors are appropriate in a prison/prisoners of war type situation. Most people agree that the most extreme forms of physical torture should not be allowed, but the issue of what might be called "psychological torture" isn't so easy to settle. I'm inclined to view non-physical methods as far more likely to be permissible, even if they are deeply offensive to prisoners.

What do YOU think?
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