More than 20 deaths, among them two U.S. soliders, have been reported as a result of four days of widespread protests throughout Afghanistan. The escalating violence, which stems from allegedly accidental burnings of the Quran by U.S. forces, prompted President Obama to send a three-page apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai calling the actions “inappropriate and inadvertent.”
"The people,” President Karzai stated, “have the right to protest peacefully, but I appeal to my countrymen not to resort to violence.”
Unfortunately, as the protests spread, violence has been brought against civilians, Afghan police, and U.S. soldiers. The Taliban issued a statement of their own on Thursday, advising protestors to "kill them, beat them, take them as prisoners, and teach them such a lesson that they never summon the courage to abuse the holy Quran again.” Such comments inflame an already aggressive demonstration, one frustrated by a perception of arrogance and ignorance on behalf of U.S. forces.
As stated by Professor Enayatullah Baleegh, such insults cannot be easily forgiven. “Our people,” he explains, “are in love with the Quran and with Islam, and we will die for them.”
On the domestic front, presidential candidate Newt Gingrich believes that President Obama has again “surrendered” himself to radical extremists who perpetuate violence overseas. In his view, the incident has been radically overblown by “fanatics” who encourage violence when the opportunity arises.
While the White House has been generally apologetic, Gingrich observes that “there seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama's attention in a negative way … and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States, period." This takes the hard-line stance which has characterized much of the Republican rhetoric about U.S. interventions overseas.
Ultimately, whether an accident or not, this will present itself as yet another stumbling bloc in the U.S.-Afghanistan conflict. Already lacking severely in support, the protests this week renew doubts about the country’s stability and the usefulness of a continued American presence in the country.
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