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Anti-US protests sweep Muslim world
Anti-American protests over reports of US interrogators tormenting prisoners by desecrating the Koran spread throughout the Muslim world Friday. Angry demonstrations broke out from the Gaza Strip and the West Bank to Indonesia following four days of violent clashes in Afghanistan that have left over 16 people dead and scores wounded.
Protests were also reported in Egypt, Sudan and Pakistan. Meanwhile, the governments of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and several other Muslim countries filed formal protests with Washington.
The immediate spark for the protests was a brief report in the May 9 issue of Newsweek magazine citing internal FBI memos from the US detention camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba reporting that “interrogators, attempting to rattle suspects ... had placed Korans on toilets and, in at least one case, flushed a holy book down the toilet.”
Some 520 detainees, virtually all of them Muslims from Afghanistan, Pakistan and a number of other countries, have been held incommunicado at Guantánamo—many of them for nearly three years—without being charged, much less tried. Cases of physical abuse and torture have been amply documented.
The impact of the report of the desecration of the Koran has been as severe in Muslim countries as the shocking pictures of Iraqi detainees suffering torture and sexual humiliation at the hands of US soldiers that came out of Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison a little over a year ago.
In both Afghanistan and Pakistan, desecration of the Koran is an offense punishable by death.
Outrage over the grotesque affront to Islam has joined with simmering resentment over US militarism and social inequality and oppression. This is particularly true in Afghanistan, where the US-led occupation force of 18,000 troops props up a deeply unpopular puppet government.
The demonstrations in Afghanistan are the largest since the US invaded and occupied the country in 2001.