Afghans are finding it hard to believe that US troops from the northern city of Bagram’s military base burned prisoner’s Korans “by mistake”, as contrite top US brass have tried to explain. The news sparked three days of deadly protests in cities across the country.
On Tuesday, Afghan workers found the burnt remains of several copies of the Muslim holy book in a pile of trash that had been incinerated by American soldiers.
US military commanders immediately tried to appease the crowd by publicly apologizing and saying the books were burned “by mistake”. The top US and NATO commander, Gen. John Allen, telephoned President Hamid Karzai and major news organizations to explain that a collection of religious materials, including Korans, was mistakenly sent for incineration. As soon as someone realized what they were burning, they stopped and retrieved what was left, Allen said.
In a video address to the Afghan people, he added: “I assure you, I promise you, this was not in any way intentional, and we are taking steps to make sure this never happens again.”
In Washington, US Defence secretary Leon Panetta also publicly apologized.
On Thursday, President Obama also apologized in a letter handed to President Hamid Karzai by the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker.
But the apologies did little to calm Afghans’ anger. Violent clashes between angry Afghan protesters and US troops in the past three days have left at least eleven people dead, including two US troops
Video posted on YouTube by Sharifullah Shahak.

"Protesters don’t understand how anyone who knows the country could have made such a mistake"

Nour Afgha (not his real name), is a young Afghan man living in Kabul.
“Personally, I didn’t join the protests because I was afraid of getting hurt. I don’t think the Korans were destroyed intentionally. There are also Muslims working at the Bagram base and they wouldn’t have let something like that be ordered.
But people are protesting because they know that the US military are educated, know about Afghanistan and its cultural and religious sensitivities. They can’t believe the Korans were burnt inadvertently. They think it’s an unthinkable mistake to make.
The incident was just one more humiliation for Muslims in general and Afghans in particular. It’s not the first time that US soldiers make this kind of “mistake”. And last year, a public Koran burning by an American radical Evangelical pastor Terry Jones sparked furious protests here. Several people were killed then, too.
Foreigners were also killed after that incident, in an attack against office buildings in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Things could get as bad again.  This time the US embassy in Kabul has ordered its personnel to stay inside as much as possible and avoid going near any protests.
I don’t think the protests will stop straight away – not before Friday prayers, at least.”
Picture posted on Twitter by Sharifullah Shahak.
Picture posted on Twitter by Sharifullah Shahak.

Picture posted on Twitter by Sharifullah Shahak.
Picture posted on Twitter by Sharifullah Shahak.