The fun of collecting tokens is the story behind each one. Many of their stories are obscured by the years, making them a challenge to discover. Some stories find their way into the headlines. This week a token distributed by a U.S. Marine in Iraq generated headlines when he was suspended by his superiors. The tokens, called "coins" in the article, quote a verse from the Gospel of John. I first saw the story in The Washington Post, but it was originally reported in the McClatchy papers.The U.S. military suspended a Marine on Thursday for distributing coins quoting the Gospel to Sunni Muslims, an incident that has enraged Iraqis who view it as the latest example of American disrespect for Islam.
So here's a challenge for E-Sylum readers: can anyone manage to track down and obtain an example of the token? Perhaps they'll be all over eBay; then again, we may never hear of them again. It would be great to at least get examples for numismatic museums here in the U.S. -Editor.
The Marine, stationed in the western city of Fallujah, handed out silver-colored coins this week that said in Arabic: "Where will you spend eternity? (John 3:36)." The other side read: "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)."
"We are sorry for this behavior," said Mike Isho, a U.S. military spokesman in Anbar province, which includes Fallujah. He said the Marine, whom he did not identify, distributed only a few of the coins and that the episode was under investigation.
Mohammed Amin Abdel-Hadi, the head of the Sunni Endowment in Fallujah, an institution responsible for overseeing the sect's mosques, criticized U.S. troops, whom many in the city view as occupiers, for acting like Christian missionaries. He said the coins were part of a pattern of insensitivity toward Muslims...
"We demand the Americans leave us alone and stop creating religious controversies," Hadi said. "First, they shot the Koran, and now they come to proselytize inside Fallujah."
Mohammed Jassim al-Dulaimi, 43, said a Marine forced one of the coins into his hand Tuesday morning as he passed through a checkpoint at the western entrance to Fallujah. He said he was shocked when he read it.
"The claims that the occupation is a Crusader War make sense now," Dulaimi said.
Police were placed on high alert and deployed around Fallujah's mosques. Officials feared violence after Friday prayers, when imams are expected to rail against the distribution of the coins and the shooting of the Koran, said police Capt. Ahmed al-Jumaili. He added that U.S. troops had reduced their presence on the streets of the city.
To read the complete article, see: Marine in Iraq Suspended Over Coins Quoting Gospel
To read the original story from the McClatchy newspapers, see:
Wayne Homren, Editor
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