On Thursday, a hundred or so demonstrators gathered outside a US military base at Mirwais in southern Afghanistan on hearing that there had been a ritual Quran-burning inside the base. In fact, it had been a routine pit burn of documents. At one point in the rally, a demonstrator raised an AK-47 toward a base tower guard, and was shot. The Demonstrators dragged him away before his condition could be determined.
This incident comes on the heels of a big demonstration in West Kabul on Wednesday that left one dead and dozens wounded, also against American fundamentalist Christians’ Quran-burning threats and events. During the past two weeks there have been several such demonstrations in Afghanistan, and hard line Muslim fundamentalists have used their cover to tear down the campaign posters of the liberal or female candidates for seats in parliament.
The anti-Muslim bigots in the US who provoked all this trouble with their Nazi-like threats of book-burning (some of which have been followed through on) did US troops in Afghanistan no favors. I think the growing urban legend in Afghanistan that virtually all Americans enjoy a good Quran barbecue regularly and that it is a central ritual on US military bases is a real psy-ops threat to US counter-insurgency efforts. The Taliban can save their armed, trained fighters for specialized operations if they can so easily mobilize ordinary Pashtun villagers to hold demonstrations outside lightly-manned US forward operating bases.
The USG Open Source Center translates a Pashto newspaper account of this incident that claims a higher death toll, of 4, though police authorities say the 4 were wounded, not killed.
‘ Commander in Afghan south says anti-US demonstrators were Taleban
Afghan Islamic Press
Thursday, September 16, 2010 …
Document Type: OSC Translated Text…
Commander in Afghan south says anti-US demonstrators were
Text of report by private Pakistan-based Afghan Islamic Press news agency
Kandahar, 16 September: Four people have been killed and eight others wounded in firing on a demonstration.
Foreigners on Thursday (16 September) killed four people in firing on demonstrators in Urozgan Province who accused foreign forces of burning the holy Koran.
An eyewitness in Chora District of Urozgan Province told Afghan Islamic Press (AIP) by telephone that hundreds of people in the centre of Chora took burned pages of the Koran on a bed in protest to the district centre, saying that foreign forces had burned the Koran during an operation in the (?Darqshan) area of the district last night.
According to eyewitnesses, the demonstrators, who were chanting anti-American slogans, were not allowed by the police to move forward towards the centre of Chora. Afterwards, they staged a demonstration towards a foreign military base in the area where foreign forces fired shots at the demonstrators, killing four demonstrators and wounding eight others.
When AIP asked the press office of ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) about this incident in Kabul, it sent a statement to AIP saying that a number of demonstrators had thrown stones at an ISAF base in the Chora District and a person holding a Kalashnikov was trying to approach the base and the ISAF opened fire on him. The statement did not comment on the demonstrators’ claim that foreign forces had burned the Koran or whether the person shot was killed or wounded.
On the other hand, Urozgan Security Commander Joma Gul Hemat rejected reports that foreign forces have burned the Koran and said that those who gathered were not demonstrators but Taleban who wanted to enter a foreign military base on the pretext of the burning of the Koran. He added that only four people were wounded in firing by foreign forces. However, Hemat did not say what did the foreign and Afghan forces do to the rest of the demonstrators, who Hemat said were the Taleban. The security commander said that an investigation had been launched into the incident.
(Description of Source: Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto — Peshawar Afghan Islamic Press in Pashto — Peshawar-based agency, staffed by Afghans, that describes itself as an independent “news agency” but whose history and reporting pattern reveal a perceptible pro-Taliban bias; the AIP’s founder-director, Mohammad Yaqub Sharafat, has long been associated with a mujahidin faction that merged with the Taliban’s “Islamic Emirate” led by Mullah Omar… ) ‘