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Afghans protest Koran disposal at US base

02-22-2012 14:39 BJT

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Over 2,000 Afghans have protested a report that foreign troops had improperly disposed of copies of the Koran and other religious items outside the main US military base in Bagram. Angry demonstrators threw stones at the base and chanted anti-foreigner slogans.

General John Allen, the US commander of international troops in Afghanistan, has apologized to the Afghan people and has ordered an investigation into the incident. Sean Callebs has the story.

The fury, fueled by US troops inadvertantly burning copies of the Koran, after the books were removed from a library at a detention facility connected to the base. US military leaders moved quickly in an effort to defuse the furor.

Gen. John Allen, ISAF Commander, said, "This was unintentional. There was no intention by any member of ISAF to defame the faith of Islam or to desecrate precious, religious material of this faith."

More than 2,000 angry Afghans, some firing guns in the air, protested on Tuesday against
the improper disposal and burning of Qurans and other Islamic religious materials at an
American air base in Bagram north of Kabul.

Western military officials are saying the Korans were removed with other material from the library because detainees were apparently writing messages in the books, to foster extremists beliefs.

Ibrahim Hooper is with the Council on American Islamic Relations, and says the damage has been done.

Ibrahim Hooper, Council on American Islamic Relations, said, "It sends a very negative message, not only to Afghans but to the rest of the Muslim world. A lack of respect, just religious insensitivity."

U-S officials are investigating the actions that sparked the angry protests. But apparently U-S troops loaded the religious books in the garbage --and were taken to a burn pit. It was there some Afghan workers noticed the books and reached into the flames to pull them out.

More than 2,000 angry Afghans, some firing guns in the air, protested on Tuesday against
the improper disposal and burning of Qurans and other Islamic religious materials at an
American air base in Bagram north of Kabul.

Gen. John Allen said, "We will look into the manner in whic the decision was made to dispose of them in this matter, something like this cannot happen again."

In April of last year, a Florida pastor burned a copy of the Koran. The action sparked violent outrage in Afghanistan, where gunment in a crowd stormed a U-N facility killing seven people. Hooper says today's protest are in part a part of the growing hostility to the U-S led military presence in Afghanistan.

Ibrahim Hooper said, "We need to get out of Afghanistan. We need to let the Afghans determine their own future. That's how you prevent these isntances as long as we are there, they are going to keep happening."


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