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Friday, Nov 28 , 2014 ( Safar, 1436)

Updated:10:00 PM GMT

Afghan Imams Rise Up Against West

OnIslam & News Agencies
Angry Afghans burn American flag
Afghan imams are preaching against the West over the recent Qur'an burning by a US pastor
Afghan, imams, West, Qur'an

KABUL –Angered by a recent burning of the Noble Qur'an by an American pastor and growing civilian casualties, Afghan Muslim imams are rising up against the US-led foreign troops in war-torn Afghanistan.

"The international community and the American government is responsible for this gravest insult to Muslims," Enayatullah Balegh, a professor at Kabul University and preacher on Fridays in Hazrat Ali mosque, told Reuters on Sunday, April 10.

“We have had enough,” he added.

"I tell my students to wage jihad against all foreigners who desecrate our religious values.”

Last month, Terry Jones, a 58-year-old fundamentalist pastor and the head of a small fringe church in Gainesville, Florida, burnt the Qur’an in front of a crowd of about 50 people on March 20 in what he called "International Judge the Qur'an Day".

Video posted on the website of his church showed a kerosene-soaked book going up in bright flames.

The Qur'an burning has sent thousands of angry Afghans into the streets in deadly protests that left scores of people dead.

The attacks were blamed by some to anti-West messages spread by outspoken imams.

In a bid to ease anti-West sentiments, the provincial governor urged imams to avoid talking about politics and ordered police to round up audio tapes containing "hate" speeches.

Moreover, the 10-year US-led occupation of Afghanistan was adding to the public anger at the foreign forces in the troubled country.

"There is a lot of anger after years in which Western military operations have caused an accumulation of civilian casualty cases," wrote Thomas Ruttig, co-director of the Afghanistan Analysts' Network, in an article on the killing.

Weak Karzai

Government officials blame what they describe as ‘lack of resources’ for failure to stop the spread of anti-West messages.

"Sometimes mullahs preach beyond whatever we want but there is no resources to control all mosques in the country," Israr-ul-Haq, a deputy for the department of Mosques and Other Holy Sites, told Reuters.

In Afghanistan wide landscape, there are about 160,000 mosques whose imams are paid by the government and the Religious Affairs Ministry gives speech notes to their imams.

Only 3,000 of those mosques are registered with the government and falls under its monitoring.

Others are built by the people and their imams are fed and supported by that neighborhood.

West-backed Afghan President Hamid Karzai does not have the influence to face down powerful imams in small mosques scattered in remote towns and rural areas.

"Mullahs have their own problems. If they speak against government policies, they are either harassed or detained by security forces," Israr-ul-Haq said.

"If they speak in favor of the government, then they are killed by insurgents."

Last July, Wikileaks website leaked Pentagon documents of the Afghan war, which affirmed that many civilian casualties were going unreported.

Though spending billions of dollars over the past 10 years, the increasing number of civilian casualties remained an obstacle for the foreign troops to win the hearts of Afghans.

"As if air strikes on civilians, violence and bloodshed was not enough, now they have burned the Qur’an," Tawab Rustami, a 24-year-old university student, told Reuters.

"The conflict is because of the foreigners, it is better for them to leave before things get worse."
Related Links:
Qur’an Burning Triggers UN Afghan Attack
Afghan Civilian Deaths Soar: UN
Afghans Protest Civilian Killings
In Leaks, Corrupt Afghanistan & Weak Karzai

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