A senior Pentagon official apologized Friday to Washington-area Muslims for the burning of Qurans at a military base in Afghanistan…
“‘I come here today to apologize on behalf of the Department of Defense for the incident that took place in Afghanistan this week,’ Lavoy told worshippers, saying the burnings were done ‘unknowingly and improperly.’…
“‘This is an issue we know is of concern, not only to Afghans, but to other Muslims around the world, including in the United States,’ Little said. ‘We want to send a strong signal to the American Muslim community that we deplore what happened and apologize for it.’…
“‘It was very satisfying, very heartwarming to hear an apology three times in one speech,’ Magid said after the services.”
“‘We should not be satisfied with mere protests and empty slogans but the military bases of the invaders, their military convoys and their troops should become a target of our courageous attacks,’ [Taliban] spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said in a statement directed to Taliban fighters and the ‘zealous and faithful people of Afghanistan.’
“‘Kill them, beat them, take them as prisoners and teach them such a lesson that they never summon the courage to abuse the Holy Qur’an again,’ he said.
“Mujahid said the Taliban called on the world’s Muslims to condemn the incident, ‘both practically and verbally and back the legitimate struggle of the Muslim Afghans’ against the ‘American aggressors.'”
“In an attempt to calm rising tensions, the commander of ISAF and U.S. forces in Afghanistan, Gen. John Allen, made a surprise visit – and an impassioned plea – to troops at the military base where the two [murdered] US servicemen were based.
“‘This is not the time for vengeance,’ he told a large gathering of U.S. and NATO troops. ‘Now is the time to look deep inside your souls, remember your mission, remember your discipline, remember who you are. We’ll come through this together as a unit.’
“Following his speech, Afghanistan’s top military commander, Gen. Sher Mohammad Karimi, echoed the same sentiments, vowing that the troops had sacrificed their lives ‘for humanity, not just the Afghan people.'”
“After German soldiers were pelted with stones by an angry crowd in Takhar Province, in northern Afghanistan, the German military decided to withdraw its soldiers from a small base there several weeks earlier than planned. The base had just 50 soldiers, so the withdrawal will have little impact, but the early departure appeared symbolic of a growing disengagement by members of the NATO coalition. France announced last month that it would bring home its troops in 2013, a year earlier than expected.
“It was unclear on Friday night whether, after four days of protests, the violence that has rolled through the country was finally spent, or if the Koran burning had uncorked an inexhaustible well of fury over the continuing presence of Western troops after 10 years of war. In some measure, the angry demonstrations were to be expected in a religious country fed up with foreigners, but the tension this week seems more pervasive and irresolvable than in the past.
“‘The violence is almost within the normal realm of things that you would see after this kind of incident,’ said Martine Van Bijlert, a director of the Afghanistan Analysts Network, a policy and research institute in Kabul. ‘The big question is, how long does it go on? You have to watch who jumps on the bandwagon. It is very intense, and there’s the feeling that all areas need to have had their own demonstration if they haven’t had one yet.'”
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