[Marxism] Protests spread to Palestine, Pakistan, Indonesia against Guantanamo desecration
ffeldman at bellatlantic.net
Sat May 14 04:23:28 MDT 2005
May 14, 2005
Muslims' Anti-American Protests Spread From Afghanistan
By CARLOTTA GALL
KABUL, Afghanistan, May 13 - Thousands of Muslims, from Gaza to Pakistan
to Indonesia, emerged from prayer services on Friday to join Afghans in
rapidly spreading protests over the reported desecration of a Koran by
American interrogators at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.
In Afghanistan, at least 8 people were killed and more than 40 injured
in clashes, bringing the death toll over four days of anti-American
rioting to at least 16, with more than 100 injured. For the first time a
policeman was killed in the violence.
Three protesters were killed and 23 people wounded as the police
grappled with a crowd of more than 1,500 in Baharak, in far northeastern
Badakhstan, the police chief of the province, Gen. Shah Jehan Nuri, said
in a telephone interview. Ten police officers and members of the border
police, who are based in the town, were among the injured, he said.
In three Pakistan cities, Peshawar, Quetta and Multan, hundreds of
protesters led largely by religious parties burned American flags and
chanted anti-American slogans after Friday Prayer. The protests were
peaceful, though, thanks in large part to the large numbers of police
officers deployed outside mosques and official buildings.
Hundreds of people gathered peacefully outside a mosque in Jakarta on
Friday while a statement was read condemning the United States for the
reported abuses. In Gaza, about 1,500 members of the radical Islamic
group Hamas marched through the Jabaliya refugee camp as outrage spread
over the reports, including a brief item in Newsweek, that interrogators
at Guantánamo Bay had flushed a Koran down the toilet in an effort to
Protesters carrying the green banners of Islam and Hamas shouted,
"Protect our holy book!" Some burned American and Israeli flags.
Anti-American protests are rare among militant Palestinians, who decry
American support for Israel but emphasize that their struggle is with
Israel, not the United States.
The White House spokesman, Scott McClellan, said Friday that officials
at the Department of Defense were investigating reports of the
desecration, and that "they take such allegations very seriously," but
he did not indicate when the investigation would be completed, Reuters
reported. "We will not tolerate any disrespect for the holy Koran," he
In Afghanistan, where the protests began Wednesday, the violence seemed
to be spreading, with demonstrations in several provincial towns. Police
officers and Afghan National Army troops were prepared in many places
but still had trouble quelling the violence, which was directed at the
government and international organizations.
The protest in Baharak formed as men emerged from the mosque after
Friday Prayer and moved on the offices of three international aid
organizations. They looted and burned the office of Focus Humanitarian
Assistance, which is financed by the Agha Khan, and broke into offices
of a British organization, Afghanaid. Some in the crowd were armed and
masked, General Nuri said.
The fighting lasted for two hours. "The main issue was the insulting of
the Koran, but unfortunately among the protesters there were some
anti-government people, and criminals and robbers, who don't want peace
and stability," the commander said.
Violent clashes were also reported in Ghazni, southwest of Kabul, where
hundreds of protesters tried to storm the governor's office. Officials
told The Associated Press that two protesters and a policeman were
killed. Twenty people were injured as police officers and Afghan
National Army troops opened fire to quell the riot, according to
Bakhtar, the government news agency. Residents said three civilians were
killed as well, but that account could not be confirmed. Local officials
refused to comment on the situation.
The Bakhtar agency said that several people were arrested, and that the
violence had been organized by extremist groups. Some of the armed
people were from outside the province, it said.
One protester was killed and one wounded in Qala-i-Nau, in Badghis
Province, where a crowd of some 1,000 people gathered outside the
offices of the United States-based aid group, World Vision, and of
Malteser. a German group backed by the Knights of Malta.
"Police fired in the air to disperse the crowd, and as a result one man
was killed and one injured," the local police chief, Amir Shah
Nayebzada, said in a telephone interview.
Four protesters were wounded, one seriously, in Gardez, southeast of the
capital, Bakhtar reported. Other news agencies reported that one
protester was killed and that American forces were deployed to protect
the United Nations mission in the town.
Small gatherings took place in Kabul but remained peaceful. One of the
most eminent religious leaders and loyal supporters of the government,
Sebaghatullah Mojadeddi, led prayers at Kabul's main mosque, Hajji
Yaqub. "We respect the Koran and support those who demonstrate," he said
in his remarks. "But we want peaceful demonstrations."
Across town in Wazir Akbar Khan, an affluent residential area, Mullah
Mohammad Ayaz Niazi, 39, called on people not to turn to violence, and
for the police and security forces also to show restraint. "When our
brothers are losing control, they should treat them very carefully," he
said. "They should not punish them by bullet or sword, because that will
be more dangerous."
Steven Erlanger contributed reporting from Jerusalem for this article
and Salman Masood from Islamabad, Pakistan.
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