Seems as every day goes by more and more of these religious fanatics come to hate and despise us.
Afghans carry an effigy, which has 'Bush' written in Dari on the paper pasted on it, during a protest in Jalalabad May 10, 2005. About 2,000 students protested in the Afghan city of Jalalabad on Tuesday, shouting 'Death to America' over a report that U.S. interrogators in Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran. (Reuters/Ajmal
Protests across Muslim world over Koran report
By Sayed Salahuddin Fri May 13, 2:57 PM ET
KABUL, Afghanistan (Reuters) - Angry protests raged across the Muslim world from Indonesia to Gaza on Friday over a report that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated the Koran, with calls for retaliation and a rising death toll.
Afghanistan, at least nine people were killed on Friday, in protests over the report bringing the country's death toll to 16 this week in its worst anti-American demonstrations since the fall of the Taliban.
Washington sought to stem Muslim anger as allies demanded investigations and thousands took to the streets in outrage over the Newsweek magazine report that interrogators at the U.S. military prison in Cuba had put the Muslim holy book on a toilet and at least once flushed it down.
The unrest spread to Pakistan, which called for a U.S. probe. Hundreds of people held a peaceful protest in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.
In Gaza, several thousand Palestinians marched through a refugee camp in a protest organized by the Islamic militant group Hamas. Several hundred Palestinians also marched in the West Bank city of Hebron.
"The Holy Koran was defiled by the dirtiest of hands, by American hands," a protester shouted at the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, where U.S. and Israeli flags were also burned.
The escalating violence prompted the Bush administration to express sympathy with the demonstrators and urge calm.
"We want Muslims around the world to know that we share and understand the concerns that they have. We are also saddened about the loss of life because of these demonstrations turning violent," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said.
Department of Defense is investigating the allegation and "they take such allegations very seriously," he said, but did indicate when the investigation would be completed. "...We will not tolerate any disrespect for the holy Koran," he added.
Secretary of State
Condoleezza Rice had also urged Muslims on Thursday to resist calls for violence, saying U.S. military authorities were investigating the Koran allegations and calling disrespect to the holy book "abhorrent to us all."
Muslims consider the Koran the literal word of God, treating each book with deep reverence, and the episode has embarrassed the United States, which has sought closer ties with Muslim allies as it wages its war on terrorism.
In Afghanistan and Pakistan, desecration of the Koran is punishable by death.
The United States' reputation had already been damaged by photographs released last year of physical and sexual abuse of Muslim prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in
Washington's allies demanded action and an investigation. Indonesia said those responsible must receive a "deserved punishment" for their "immoral action." Pakistan also called for a U.S. probe, and Saudi Arabia, the birthplace of Islam, said it was following the issue with "deep indignation."
Sentiments ran higher in the streets.
"Demonstrations serve no purpose, we should do something practical. I am ready to blow myself up for the sake of my religion to embrace martyrdom," said Mohammad Ghafoor, 18, a student protesting in Peshawar, Pakistan.
Newsweek, in its May 9 edition, quoted sources as saying that investigators probing abuses at the military prison had found that interrogators "had placed Korans on toilets, and in at least one case flushed a holy book down the toilet."
Washington is holding more than 500 prisoners from its war on terrorism at the naval base on Cuba, many of them detained in Afghanistan after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The report prompted the worst anti-U.S. protests across that fragmented country since Americans invaded to topple Kabul's Islamist Taliban rulers for harboring
Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda network.
On Friday, Islamic clerics in Afghanistan told worshipers at weekly prayers that protests over the reported desecration of the holy book were justified.
They urged Muslims to shun violence, but their words fell on deaf ears as clashes erupted in different parts of the country, claiming at least nine lives, most those of protesters shot by police.
About 100 people have been injured there in days of protests, and police stations, U.N. and aid group offices and government premises have been ransacked and torched.
The United States commands a foreign force in Afghanistan of about 18,300, fighting Taliban insurgents and hunting Taliban and al Qaeda leaders, including bin Laden.
(Additional reporting by Simon Cameron-Moore, Zeeshan Haider and Saeed Ali Achakzai in Pakistan, Tabassum Zakaria in Washington and Nidal al-Mughrahbi in Gaza)