Shots fired to disperse Afghan Koran protest in Kabul
(Photo: Afghans protest at parliament building in Kabul, 25 Oct 2009/Ahmad Masood)
Afghan police fired into the air on Sunday to break up a protest by thousands of people who had gathered in the capital, Kabul, to protest against what they said was the desecration of a copy of the Koran by foreign troops.
Protesters, claiming foreign forces had burned a copy of Islam’s holiest book during a raid in Maidan Wardak province last week, blocked traffic in Kabul for more than an hour. A spokeswoman for U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan said none of their troops were involved in the incident and blamed the Taliban for spreading a false rumor that a copy of the Koran had been burned.
Thick plumes of smoke rose above the crowd as protesters set fire to a large effigy of what they said was U.S. President Barack Obama. “Death to America. Down with Israel,” chanted one man at the rally, which was organized mainly by university students. Others threw stones and clashed with police but no casualties were reported.
“No to democracy. We want just Islam,” said one banner carried by protesters, many of whom shook their fists in the air. Captain Elizabeth Mathias, a media officer for U.S. and NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, said the Taliban were trying to undermine foreign troops by spreading the rumor. “We did not burn a Koran … It is unfortunate that the protesters believe a Taliban rumor,” Mathias said, adding an investigation had been carried out.
Read the full story here. Below is the Reuters video showing what a protest like this looks like: