Print options

March 01, 2012

Afghan Clerics Deem US Quran Burning Unforgivable

Senior Afghan clerics have condemned the United States for the burning of Qurans at a NATO base last month, in a move that threatens to spark a new wave of outrage and violence.

The Ullema Council called the burning of the Muslim holy books at Bagram Air Base a "crime" and "inhumane."  It also said apologies by senior U.S. military officials and President Barack Obama would not be accepted and called for those responsible to be "publicly tried and punished."

The statement by the council was quoted Friday by the office of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who met with the clerics earlier this week.  Their comments follow days of violent protests that left at least 30 people dead.

Word that U.S. troops at Bagram had incinerated Qurans also sparked a series of deadly attacks on American service members.

Following the incident, the commander of the U.S.-led international coalition, U.S. General John Allen, in Afghanistan issued an apology and ordered an investigation.  However, just last week, thousands of Afghans poured onto the streets to protest following Friday prayers, many chanting "Death to America."

The incident also sparked protests in neighboring Pakistan.  

President Karzai appealed for calm following the initial wave of protests, saying citizens have the right to demonstrate but should not resort to violence.  

The Associated Press reports that the statement from the Ullema Council also called on the U.S. to end night raids and hand over its prisons in Afghanistan to Afghan control.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.