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After Koran burning in U.S.

Afghanistan erupts with anti-U.S./NATO protests

Published Apr 17, 2011 9:01 PM

Already bogged down in a bitter war of occupation, the U.S. has found itself facing renewed outrage by Afghans who are protesting both the U.S. and its NATO allies. Otherwise “pacified” cities have joined with guerrilla forces operating mainly in the countryside to demand that U.S. and NATO forces leave immediately.

Anger over the burning of the Muslim holy book by a Florida-based reactionary religious sect fueled the latest protests. The sect burning of the Quran took place on March 20 under the supervision of Terry Jones. Last September, after backing down from previous threats to burn the Quran, Jones had promised never to burn the Muslim holy book.

On April 1, thousands of demonstrators in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif poured into the streets after Friday prayers and overran a U.N. compound, killing three U.N. staff members and four Nepalese guards. Security forces killed four demonstrators.

The next day hundreds of Afghans holding copies of the Quran over their heads marched in Kandahar before attacking cars and businesses. Security forces opened fire and nine protesters were killed. Kandahar’s governor claimed that officers had only fired into the air. He said 81 were wounded and 17 people, including seven armed men, had been arrested.

In Jalalabad, the largest city in the east, hundreds of people blocked the main highway for three hours, shouting for U.S. troops to leave, burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and stomping on a drawing of a U.S. flag. More than 1,000 people set tires ablaze to block the highway in eastern Parwan province for about an hour, provincial police chief Sher Ahmad Maladani told the Associated Press. (April 3)

Resentment building for years

Resentment has been building for years in Afghanistan over the operations of Western military forces, who are blamed for killing and mistreating civilians, and international contractors, who are seen by many as enriching themselves and fueling corruption at the expense of ordinary Afghans.

Coverage of the ongoing trial of a group of U.S. soldiers charged with killing Afghan civilians and publication of photos taken by some of those soldiers posing with dead bodies also fueled that anger.

Military commander and top NATO civilian representative in Afghanistan, Gen. Mark Sedwill, rather lamely said that they “hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Qur’an, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.” (AP, April 3)

But the people of Afghanistan aren’t buying this lie.

Not surprisingly, the Florida group burned the Quran just one week after Rep. Peter King’s “Homeland Security” Congressional Committee launched a vicious attack on the U.S. Muslim community. King demanded an investigation into all mosques to see whether they were doing enough to find and expose “terrorists.” King was appealing to racist reactionary constituents who have been trying to stop the building of a mosque in downtown Manhattan.

Afghans and Muslims around the world might very well ask, “Who is disrespecting whom?”