The (Very) Holy Koran

Why this particular sacrilege? Why, in the foul context of Abu Ghraib and subsequent (confirmed) reports of female interrogators tormenting pious detainees with sexual come-ons, should Newsweek's item have helped trigger violence? The full answer involves Pakistani politics and flagging Afghan goodwill. But the short one concerns a religious force often mismeasured in the West: Islam's extreme reverence for the Koran and fury at its defilement.

Westerners often compare the Koran to the Bible, but as religion professors routinely explain, a closer Christian analogy is Christ himself, described in the opening of the Gospel of John as a divine expression ("In...