Thousands Protest at US Afghan Base After Quran Desecration
A crowd of Afghans protesting outside the main U.S. military base in Afghanistan swelled to more than 2,000 Tuesday over a report that foreign troops had improperly disposed of copies of the Quran, Afghan officials said.
General John Allen, commander of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), earlier offered his “sincere apologies” for the actions in an apparent bid to prevent anti-Western anger from spreading across Afghanistan.
“When we learned of these actions, we immediately intervened and stopped them. The materials recovered will be properly handled by appropriate religious authorities,” he wrote in a statement.
“We are thoroughly investigating the incident and we are taking steps to ensure this does not ever happen again. I assure you … I promise you … this was NOT intentional in any way,” Allen wrote.
He did not provide details on the incident.
Roshna Khalid, the provincial governor’s spokeswoman, said Qurans had been burned inside the base and some of the material had been taken outside the facility, citing accounts from laborers. The Quran is the holy book of Islam.
The protests, which authorities described as largely peaceful, took place outside Bagram airfield, an hour’s drive north of the capital Kabul.