As described in the New York Times article, Chain of avoidable errors cited in Koran burning, the process of selecting these particular copies of the Koran and preventing their use as a means of communication among prisoners was noted for its ignorance and blatant insensitivity if not deliberate insult. The lack of training in cultural respect and linguistics all along the line was said to be insufficient.
There is a standard process for how a copy of the Koran should be handled, and any imam would have been able to describe it if consulted:
"What should have happened was far different, Maulavi Dad said. He gently lifted up his Koran, a beautifully bound one with dark blue ornamentation, and described the religiously approved way one would dispose of it if it were damaged or too old to use.
"'We have two suggestions: You can cover it with a clean cloth and bury it on holy ground, a shrine or a graveyard, a place where people don’t walk,' he said.
"'Or you can wrap it and place it in the sea, the river, in flowing water.'
"He added, 'You see, we believe the earth and the water are the two cleanest elements on the planet, and since we give great value to holy books and papers, this is where we bury them.'If there really was a problem with these copies of the Koran at the prison, if sorting was handled according to objective criteria, if local Muslim authorities had been asked for help, if standard processes were provided to personnel, and if they had been properly trained to follow those processes, things could have been far different. Instead, violence and outrage have followed, individuals have been singled out for blame and punishment, and the divide between the U.S. and the Muslim world has increased. It breaks my heart to think about it.