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The Killid Group
Over 30 died in protests against Quran insultWritten by Izazullah Zaland and Saeed Zabulai
Saturday, 09 April 2011 10:52
Did Pastor Terry Jones know that his reckless burning of the Holy Quran would result in the loss of innocent lives? Why America cannot stop a provoking pastor from orchestrating a clash of religions but can bomb Muslim fundamentalists across the world?
In a series of emotional protests to the burning of the Holy Quran on 20th March by an American pastor thousands of Afghans went to the streets in different parts of Afghanistan and chanted anti-U.S. slogans. In some cities like Mazar and Kandahar, the protests turned violent and resulted in the deaths of over 30 people and the wounding of over 120 individuals including children. Among those brutally killed were three UN international employees and four Nepalese hired by the UN to protect its main office in the northern Mazar city. Terry Jones, the controversial pastor, has refused to accept any responsibility for the tragic repercussions of his actions and U.S. officials insist that under U.S. laws the pastor has not committed any wrongdoing.
Four days after Jones burned the Holy Quran, President Hamid Karzai issued a statement in which he strongly condemned Jones' action, called on the U.S. Government to bring the pastor to justice and asked the UN Secretary-General to play a constructive role in preventing a clash between the people of different religions across the globe.
Karzai's statement could not prevent the violent protests which rocked over a dozen cities across the country over the past one week. At least 27 people have been arrested in Balkh Province in connection with the deadly attack on the UN office in Mazar on 1 April. The UN Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) and government officials allege that insurgents infiltrated the protests in Mazar and Kandahar and turned them violent. The Taliban have rejected the accusations but have praised the people who attacked the UN office and killed its civilian staffers. In addition to the seven UN employees and security contractors the 1 April protest in Mazar also culminated in the death of at least 4 demonstrators and the wounding of 17 people.
After Mazar, it was Kandahar's turn to implode on 2-3 April. In the two violent days, at least 18 people lost their lives and 120 wounded were taken to hospitals, according to provincial authorities. Details on how and why so many people were killed and wounded are unknown as government officials emphasize that security forces did not open fire on protestors but in self-defence.
During a meeting of the National Security Council in which U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and the commander of U.S.-NATO forces in Afghanistan, Gen. David Petraeus, had also attended President Karzai reiterated his request to the U.S. Government to bring Terry Jones to justice. His pleas, however, fell into deaf ears in Washington but Gen. Petraeus publically condemned the pastor's senseless acts.
"The burning of the Holy Quran by an American Church Cleric is not only an insult for the Muslims but also for the followers of all religions," read a press statement issued by the U.S. Embassy in Kabul and quoting ambassador Eikenberry as saying.
A statement issued by the White House, meanwhile, did not reprimand the provoking pastor but condemned the violent protests. "No religion permits the murder and beheading of innocent people and there is no justification for this unpleasant act," said the White House statement.
Inside Afghanistan, the predominant view is also against the killing and wounding of UN employees and other people by the demonstrators. "Some people abused the good intentions and emotions of the protestors," said Mohammad Asif, a resident of Mazar. "Violence is the worst reaction to the pastor's irrational acts. Violence neither helps us nor protects our religion but actually helps the very insane pastor," said Ahmad Walid, a resident of Kabul.
The protests are far from over and so are the provocative and insulting misdeeds of Terry Jones whose antagonistic actions could also be replicated elsewhere by ultraconservative groups. The option is for the Afghans to decide whether they want more of the same violent protests or would adopt nonviolent strategies.
"My father has lost his mind"
Terry Jones, the 58-year-old former hotel manager who became a U.S. fundamentalist Christian preacher, did on March 20th what he had tried to do on September 11th: burning the sacred Quran.
At that time, his widely publicized intention of reminding the anniversary of the 2001 attacks was stopped by the pressures put on him by a world reaction that included the President Barack Obama and the Pope.
More silently, though, on March 20 he presided the "International Judge the Quran Day", as he called it. Around 50 people gathered in Gainesville, Florida where Mr. Jones supervised the burning. The action was videoed and uploaded to his Dove World Outreach Centre Church website, where his book "Islam is of the Devil", T-shirts and baseball cups with the same sentence are sold. Mr. Jones' non-denominational church only has a few dozen members.
The controversial pastor is planning a further provocation on April 22: a protest outside an Islamic centre in Dearborn, Michigan, home to a large Muslim population. "Dearborn is sort of the Mecca of America," he said.
"We believe parts of the Quran, if taken literally, do lead to violence and terrorist activities," he wrongly said after the burning. After the events in Mazar-e-Sharif, Jones told the BBC he did not feel responsible for the killings of the UNAMA employees.
The Mayor of Gainesville, Craig Lowe, condemned the Quran burning. "It's important that the world and nation know that this particular individual and these actions are not representative of our community," he said.
Last year, Jones' daughter said she believed that her father had lost his mind in his fanatical crusade against Islam.