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On Tuesday, troops at a NATO military base in Afghanistan mistakenly burned copies of the holy Quran, triggering angry protests and resulting in the deaths of seven people. This all started when Afghan workers saw soldiers throwing books in a quarry, where garbage was being burned and noted that Qurans, among other religious materials, were in the midst of the trash. More than 2,000 Afghans have protested, shouting, “Die, die, foreigners!”
The clashes emphasize the U.S. targeted resentment in Afghanistan as protests across four eastern provinces exemplified the strength of Afghans’ anger at what they perceive as foreigners breaking their laws and insulting their culture. Despite having top American officials apologize to Mr. Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, the Afghans did not calm down.
The Associated Press quoted Mohammad Hakim, saying, “They should leave Afghanistan, rather than disrespecting our religion, our faith; they have to leave, and if next time they disrespect our religion, we will defend our holy Quran, religion, and faith until the last drop of blood has left in our body.”
News sources reported that investigations have been launched to determine why soldiers were ordered to destroy Islamic books from the detention center’s library. Mohammad Shaker told the Associated Press that he first heard of the Quran burning on Tuesday and decided to storm the streets with his friends on Wednesday after fajr/morning prayers. “This is not the first time they’re doing these things. They are killing civilians and taking photos of them.
Every day, they kill civilians with airstrikes. We can’t accept their crimes in our country,” Shaker said. According to CNN News, Obama apologized to Mr. Karzai, referring to the act as “inadvertent”. In a letter delivered by Ryan Crocker, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, Obama said, “We will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, including holding accountable those responsible.”
Anayatullah Baligh, an Afghan religious scholar said, “I can’t tell you whether Americans intentionally burned the copies of the holy Quran to make Muslims angry, or if they did it mistakenly, but their carelessness was a crime they have committed against the holiest book of two billion Muslims around the world.”
Mr. Karzai supported the demonstrations and said, “The people have the right to protest peacefully, but I appeal to my countrymen not to resort to violence.” According to initial Afghan government reports, four copies of the holy Quran were burned before the fire was extinguished. Protesters have burned down American flags and yelled “Death to America” in retaliation.