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Afghan clerics demand punishment for Quran burners

March 02, 2012

Afghan protesters shout anti-US slogans during a protest in Kunduz province. -Reuters File Photo

KABUL: Senior Afghan clerics said on Friday the burning of Quran's at a Nato base last month was an “evil act” that must be punished, a demand that could deepen widespread public anger over the incident.    

“The council strongly condemns this crime and inhumane, savage act by American troops by desecrating holy Quran's,” members of a council of clerics said after meeting President Hamid Karzai, according to a statement issued by his office.

“The council emphasised that the apology for this evil act can never be accepted. Those who committed this crime must be publicly tried and punished.”

Despite the apology from US President Barack Obama, the desecration of the Quran's at Bagram air base ignited a wave of anti-Western fury across the country. Muslims consider the Quran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence.

At least 30 people were killed in the protests. The Quran's had been confiscated from prisoners at the base and mistakenly discarded in an incinerator, US officials said. Afghan labourers found charred remnants.

The Quran burnings have hurt a US campaign to win the hearts and minds of Afghans in order to weaken the Taliban and force the militant group to negotiate an end to the war now in its eleventh year.