Prayer leaders ask for restraint, patienceBy Khwaja Basir Ahmad Feb 24, 2012 - 18:01
KABUL (PAN): Prayer leaders and religious scholars in Kabul and other parts of the country on Friday condemned the alleged burning of the Quran by foreign soldiers. However, they urged the people to avoid violent demonstrations.
Four copies of the Quran were allegedly burnt by US soldiers at the Bagram Airbase in central Parwan province four days ago, touching off angry protests across the country. At least 16 people have been killed and more than 80 injured during the protests so far.
Peaceful demonstrations continued on Friday in Kabul, Jalalabad, Khost, Nangarhar, Paktia and other provinces. The protestors demanded stringent punishment for the perpetrators of the incident and immediate withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.
Maulvi Lotfullah, a prayer leader at the Tamim Sahib Ansar mosque in Kabul, said in his Friday sermon: “Every indiviasual reserves the right to protest but he/she should not harm others.” He asked the people to avoid violence and raise their voice peacefully.
Another cleric, Maulvi Syed Ahmad, said it was not the first time that foreign forces and their servants had insulted Islam and the Quran. He warned the authorities if they failed to punish those involved in the incident, the Afghans would not remain silent.
Ghulam Yahiya, an imam in Jalalabad, the capital of Nangarhar province, also condemned the sacrilege. He called upon the Afghans to defend their religion stoutly, but in a way that did not harm other Muslims.
Pledging a full investigation, US President Barack Obama has also expressed his deep regrets to the Afghan government and people over the alleged burning of the Quran.
US Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan C. Crocker extended his sincere apologies to the people of Afghanistan and expressed his deep regrets over the issue. He said Gen. John Allen had immediately offered his apology and ordered an investigation.