Newsweek article insults Koran, Pakistan says, bans it

Associated Press, July 25, 2003

Islamabad, Pakistan – Pakistan has banned the latest issue of Newsweek’s international edition, saying an article on new interpretations of the Koran offends Islam.

The information minister said yesterday that customs authorities have been ordered to seize copies of the edition.

“The article is insulting to the Koran,” the minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, said. He said officials fear the article could incite violence in a nation wracked by feuding between militant members of the Sunni and Shiite sects of Islam.

An article on Newsweek’s Web site deals with a new interpretation of Islam’s holy book by a German scholar of Semitic languages, who uses the pseudonym Christoph Luxenberg.

He argues that the language of the Koran has been misinterpreted and that in verses detailing the rewards of heaven the text’s original word, meaning “white raisins,” was mistaken for the word “houris,” or dark-eyed virgins, the article says.

He also questions Islamic rulings that women cover themselves and says the Koran was originally a Christian document, the article says.

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