U.S. Afghanistan commanders condemn Florida church’s Koran-burning plan
(Photo: Afghans in Kabul protest against Koran burning plan, September 6, 2010/Mohammad Ishaq)
U.S. military commanders in Afghanistan have warned that a small Florida church’s plan to burn copies of the Koran on the anniversary of the September 11 attacks could endanger the lives of American troops.
The warnings followed an angry protest on Monday by several hundred people in the Afghan capital, Kabul, who chanted “Death to America” as they denounced the planned burning event by the Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center church.
The center, calling itself a “New Testament, Charismatic, Non-Denominational Church,” says it will go ahead with the torching of the Koran on Saturday to mark the ninth anniversary of the 2001 attacks against the United States.
Two top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan said the proposed burning of the Muslim holy book risked undermining U.S. President Barack Obama’s efforts to reach out to the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims. They said it could also trigger retaliation against U.S. forces serving in Afghanistan.
“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” General David Petraeus, the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, said in a statement to U.S. media organizations. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world, we are engaged with the Islamic community.”