March 8, 2012
The fallout from the Koran burnings by U.S. service members last month continues.
Several U.S. soldiers have been killed. And on Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of Bagram Airfield in retaliation for the incineration of Islam’s holy book.
A U.S. soldier currently deployed to Afghanistan shared his view of the situation with me.
Sergeant Nick Shively of the 172nd Infantry Brigade stationed in Paktika province, said:
“The insurgents used the Koran to write jihadists messages to pass to others. In doing so, they violated their own cultural practice and defiled the Koran.”
The holy books were confiscated from a U.S. prison, Parwan Detention Center at Bagram Airfield, after they were discovered to contain extremist messages and were mistakenly taken out with the office trash.
Sgt. Shively continued, “The insurgents turned the Koran into contraband. Therefore it’s ridiculous that we would even consider apologizing.”
Both General John Allen, the commander of U.S. and international forces in Afghanistan, and President Obama have issued apologies. It’s a move that could save lives as violent protests rage and an inquiry by U.S. military investigators confirms that five American service members were responsible for the fiery, accidental disposal of Korans at Parwan Detention Center.
It’s not the first time the prison has been at the center of U.S.-Afghan relations.
In January this year, President Karzai demanded the U.S. hand over the prison for the sake of Afghan sovereignty. The Washington Post reported that the Parwan Detention Center and its growing detainee population is regarded as a critical marker in the war’s endgame and a sign that Afghan officials are ready to inherit institutions essential to the nation’s future.
The recent Koran burnings there could give Karzai some leverage in his request for the U.S. to hand over the prison soon.
February 23, 2012
The gunmen opened fire after calls from Taliban insurgents to attack U.S. military bases in revenge attacks for U.S. troops setting fire to the Muslim holy books. It is the worst case of violence in three days of unrest that began when Korans – used by former Afghan detainees at Nato’s Bagram air base – were among rubbish taken to a ‘burn pit’ and recovered by Afghans working there.
Two U.S. troops have been shot dead by an Afghan soldier as violence rages across the country in response to Korans being burned. The gunmen opened fire after calls from Taliban insurgents to attack U.S. military bases in revenge attacks for U.S. troops setting fire to the Muslim holy books.
The attack took place during a protest outside a U.S. military base in the Khogyani district of Nangarhar Province. It is the worst case of violence in three days of unrest that began when Korans – used by former Afghan detainees at Nato’s Bagram air base – were among rubbish taken to a ‘burn pit’ and recovered by Afghans working there.
The protests drew thousands of angry Afghans to the streets, chanting ‘Death to America!’ for the third consecutive day in violence that has killed 11 people and wounded many more. The violence could intensify during tomorrow after Friday prayers.
February 22, 2012
Good thing it wasn’t the Bible.
Six people were shot dead and dozens wounded in protests in Afghanistan which flared for a second day on Wednesday in several cities over the burning of copies of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, at NATO’s main base in the country, officials said.
The American embassy said its staff were in “lockdown” and travel had been suspended as thousands of people expressed fury over the burning, a public relations disaster for U.S.-led NATO forces fighting Taliban militants ahead of the withdrawal of foreign combat troops by the end of 2014.
The U.S. government and the American commander of NATO-led forces in Afghanistan apologized after Afghan laborers found charred copies of the Koran while collecting rubbish at the sprawling Bagram Airbase, about an hour’s drive north of Kabul.
The apologies failed to contain the anger. Thousands of Afghans took to the streets again, chanting anti-American slogans and some raising white Taliban flags in the capital.
Winning the hearts and minds of Afghans is critical to efforts to defeat the Taliban. Similar incidents in the past have caused deep divisions and resentment among Afghans towards the tens of thousands of foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Seven foreign UN workers were killed during protests that raged across Afghanistan for three days in April 2011 after a U.S. pastor burned a Koran in Florida.