Taliban Urges Attacks on Foreign Military Bases After Quran Burnings

Posted February 23rd, 2012 at 4:30 am (UTC-5)
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The Taliban has called on Afghans to attack foreign military bases in retaliation for the burning of Qurans at a NATO base, while protests continued for a third day.

In a statement Thursday, the Taliban urged Afghans to kill, capture and beat foreign soldiers as a lesson to never desecrate the Muslim holy book.

Thousands of people took part in demonstrations, including in eastern Laghman province and the city of Jalalabad, with some chanting “death to America.”

The protests come a day after Afghan President Hamid Karzai appealed for calm, saying citizens have the right to protest, but should not resort to violence.

Since the demonstrations erupted Tuesday, clashes between Afghan security forces and protesters have left at least seven people dead.

Nazif Shahrani, an Afghan native who is a South Asia analyst at Indiana University, told VOA the protests are about more than this one incident.

“What people seem to perceive is that the U.S. has essentially not kept its promises and that all the promises have been false. And these are really symptoms of that anger and that disappointment toward the United States. And it's hoped that the United States government looks at this issue more broadly than just apologizing for what has happened in Bagram.”

U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met Wednesday in Kabul with Afghan leaders, including President Karzai, to again apologize for the incident.

The commander of the international coalition, U.S. General John Allen, had issued an apology Tuesday, saying the improper disposal of Islamic religious texts was “not intentional in any way.” He has ordered an investigation.

Protesters told VOA Wednesday that they want the Americans out of their country and that words alone cannot change the disrespect that Muslims have suffered.

The Associated Press quoted an unnamed Western military official with knowledge of the incident as saying it appeared that the copies of the Quran in question and other Islamic readings in the library at Bagram were being used to fuel extremism, and that detainees were writing on the documents to exchange extremist messages.

Afghan protests against the destruction of the Muslim holy book have turned deadly in recent years. In April 2011, about 20 people were killed during several days of protests across Afghanistan after little-known U.S. pastor Terry Jones burned a Quran at his small Florida church.