KABUL, Afghanistan (The Blaze/AP) — More than 2,000 angry Afghans rallied Tuesday against the inadvertent burning of Korans and other Islamic religious materials during trash disposal at an American air base. They demanded to meet the country’s president over the issue and threatened to demonstrate again if their demand was not met.
U.S. Gen. John Allen, the top commander in Afghanistan, apologized and ordered an investigation into the incident, which he was “not intentional in any way.”
The incident stoked anti-foreign sentiment that already is on the rise after nearly a decade of war in Afghanistan and fueled the arguments of Afghans who believe foreign troops are not respectful of their culture or Islamic religion.
Here‘s Allen’s apology:
Early Tuesday, as word of the incident spread, about 100 demonstrators gathered outside the sprawling Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul in Parwan province. As the crowd grew, so did the outrage.
“Die, die, foreigners!” the demonstrators shouted. Some fired hunting guns into the air. Others threw rocks at the gate of the base.
Ahmad Zaki Zahed, chief of the provincial council, said U.S. military officials took him to a burn pit on the base where 60 to 70 books, including Korans, were recovered. The books were used by detainees once incarcerated at the base, he said.
“Some were all burned. Some were half-burned,” Zahed said, adding that he did not know exactly how many Korans, the Muslim holy book, had been burned.
Zahed said five Afghans working at the pit told him that the religious books were in the garbage that two soldiers with the U.S.-led coalition transported to the pit in a truck late Monday night. When they realized the books were in the trash, the laborers worked to recover them, he said.