Koran protests continue in Afghanistan
Sunday 03 April 2011
Demonstrators battled police in southern Afghanistan's main city on Sunday and took to the streets in the turbulent east for the first time as Western pleas failed to halt a third day of rage over a Florida pastor's burning of the Koran.
An officer was shot dead in a second day of clashes in the city of Kandahar, said provincial health director Qayum Pokhla. Two officers and 18 civilians were wounded, he said.
In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for US troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a US flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block another highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, said provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani.
The violence was set off by anger over the March 20 burning of the Koran by a Florida church — the same church whose pastor had threatened to do so last year on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, triggering worldwide outrage.
The protests, which began Friday, also appear to be fueled more broadly by the resentment that has been building for years in Afghanistan over the operations of Western military forces, blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.
Coverage of the trial of a group of US soldiers charged with killing Afghan civilians and the publication of photos of some posing with dead bodies added to the anger.
Thousands of demonstrators in the previously peaceful northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif poured into the streets after Friday's Muslim prayer services and overran a UN compound, killing three UN staff members and four Nepalese guards.
On Saturday, hundreds of Afghans holding copies of the Koran over their heads marched in Kandahar before attacking cars and businesses. Security forces opened fire and nine protesters were killed but the governor of Kandahar said officers had only fired into the air. He said 81 were wounded and 17 people, including seven armed men, had been arrested.
Military commander Gen. David Petraeus and the top Nato civilian representative in Afghanistan, Mark Sedwill, said they "hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the holy Koran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people."
The Taliban said in a statement emailed to media outlets that the US and other Western countries had wrongly excused the burning of the Koran as freedom of speech and that Afghans "cannot accept this un-Islamic act."
"Afghan forces under the order of the foreign forces attacked unarmed people during the protests, killing them and arresting some, saying there were armed people among these protesters, which was not true," the Taliban said.
The governor of Kandahar said he and the main leaders of the protests in the southern city had reached an agreement that would end the demonstrations in exchange for the release of those who were arrested. He said they released 25 people but did not provide details.
- 2 Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
- 3 A teacher speaks out: 'I'm effectively being forced out of a career that I wanted to love'
- 4 Cee Lo Green: It is only rape if the victim is conscious
- 5 Nigerian witch-finder Helen Ukpabio threatens legal action against human rights organisations
Emma Watson on Jennifer Lawrence naked photo leak: 'Even worse than seeing women's privacy violated is reading the comments'
Victoria Justice on naked photo leak: 'Let me nip this in the bud right now – pun intended'
Ariana Grande nude photos leak: Pictures are completely fake, say representatives
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb
Kate Upton nude photos leak: Model's spokespeople 'looking into' authenticity of indecent images
Rotherham child sex abuse scandal: Labour Home Office to be probed over what Tony Blair's government knew - and when
What do immigrants really think of Britain? Polish immigrant's Reddit post goes viral
Ashya King: Parents of five-year-old boy refused permission to visit him in hospital and denied bail at Spanish court
With Douglas Carswell joining Ukip, my party has taken another giant step forward
When elitism grips the top of British society to this extent, there is only one answer: abolish private schools
Ashya King: 'Cruel NHS has not given us the treatment we need', says father of five-year-old with brain tumour who fled to Spain
£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Creche Assistant to start asap ...
£8 per hour: Randstad Education Leeds: The Job Nursery Nurse Leeds We are now ...
£55000 - £65000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A Global Financial Service Organi...
£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...