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Bible coin angers Fallujah residents

FALLUJAH, Iraq, May 29 (UPI) -- Residents in the Iraqi city of Fallujah blamed the U.S. Marines for humiliating Islam by handing out coins with a Bible verse on them.

Fallujah residents claim U.S. Marines stationed near the western entrance to the city handed out coins with the Bible verse John 3:16 on the reverse, McClatchy Newspapers reported.

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"They are trying to convert us to Christianity," said Fallujah resident Muamar Anad.

A tribal elder who is part of an organization charged with monitoring religious centers in the city called on the Marines to stop distributing the coins.

"This can cause strife between the Iraqis and especially between Muslim and Christians. … Please stop these things and leave our homes, because we are Muslims and we live in our homes in peace with other religions," said Sheik Mohammed Amin Abdel Hadi.

The situation follows an incident earlier where the U.S. military dismissed a sniper for using the Muslim holy book, the Koran, for target practice.

A spokesman for the U.S. military said officials launched an investigation into the coin incident.

"Multi-National Force-Iraq is investigating a report that U.S. military personnel in Fallujah handed out material that is religious and evangelical in nature," Rear Adm. Patrick Driscoll said in an e-mail statement to McClatchy Wednesday.

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