May. 29, 2008 12:00 AM
FALLUJAH, Iraq - At the western entrance to the Iraqi
city of Fallujah on Tuesday, Muamar Anad handed his
residence badge to the U.S. Marines guarding the city.
They checked to be sure that he was a city resident,
and when they were done, Anad said, a Marine slipped a
coin out of his pocket and put it in his hand.
Out of fear, he accepted it, Anad said. When he was
inside the city, the college student said, he looked
at one side of the coin. "Where will you spend
eternity?" it asked.
He flipped it over, and on the other side it 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."
"They are trying to convert us to Christianity," said
Anad, a Sunni Muslim like most residents of this city
in Anbar province. At home, he told his story, and his
relatives echoed their disapproval: They'd been given
the coins, too, he said.
Fallujah, the scene of a bloody U.S. offensive against
Sunni insurgents in 2004, has calmed and grown less
hostile to American troops since residents turned
against al-Qaida in Iraq, which had tried to force its
brand of Islamist extremism on the population.
Now residents of the city are abuzz that some
Americans whom they consider occupiers are also acting
as Christian missionaries. Residents said some Marines
have been passing out the coins for two days in what
they call a "humiliating" attempt to convert them to
"Iraq is investigating a report that U.S. military
personnel in Fallujah handed-out material that is
religious and evangelical in nature," said Rear Adm.
Patrick Driscoll, a U.S. military spokesman, in a
statement e-mailed to McClatchy Newspapers. "Local
commanders are investigating since the military
prohibits proselytizing any religion, faith or
The controversy over the coins that Iraqis said some
Marines are passing out comes on the heels of a
tempest triggered by a U.S. sniper who used the Quran,
Islam's holy book, for target practice.
Iraqi leaders condemned the actions, U.S. generals
apologized and President Bush offered a apology to
Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.