My favorite quote: “We Afghans don’t want these Christians and infidels, they are the enemy of our soil, our honor and our Koran.”
(Reuters) – About 2,000 Afghans protested outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan on Tuesday over a report that foreign soldiers improperly disposed of copies of the Koran.
U.S. helicopters fired flares to try to break up as many as 2,000 demonstrators who massed outside several gates to the base, chanting anti-foreigner slogans and throwing stones.
Roshna Khalid, the provincial governor’s spokeswoman, said copies of the Muslim holy book had been burnt inside Bagram airbase, an hour’s drive north of the capital Kabul, citing accounts from local laborers.
“The laborers normally take the garbage outside and they found the remains of Korans,” Khalid said.
NATO’s top general in Afghanistan attempted to contain fury over the incident, which could be a public relations disaster for the U.S. military as it tries to pacify the country ahead of the withdrawal of foreign combat troops in 2014.
“When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities,” said General John Allen, head of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), in a written statement, as well as in a video released on a U.S. military website.
“This was NOT intentional in any way.”
Reuters reporters at the scene said there were about 2,000 protesters.
“We Afghans don’t want these Christians and infidels, they are the enemy of our soil, our honor and our Koran,” said Haji Shirin, one of the protesters.
“I urge all Muslims to sacrifice themselves in order to pull out these troops from this soil.”