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Afghan president tries to reduce outrage over US soldiers allegedly desecrating Taliban bodies - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) – President Hamid Karzai said Friday he was &#34very unhappy&#34 to learn that U.S. soldiers had burned the bodies of two dead Taliban fighters, but he said mistakes happen in war and Afghans shouldn”t let the incident mar their impression of the United States.

His apparent attempt to reduce Afghans” anger over the alleged desecration of the bodies came amid warnings by Islamic clerics of a possible violent anti-American backlash.

&#34Sometimes things happen in these sort of operations, during war. Soldiers make mistakes,&#34 he told reporters in Kabul. &#34We are very grateful for the international community”s assistance … Their soldiers have shed their blood in our country.&#34

But he added, &#34We in Afghanistan in accordance with our religion … are very unhappy and condemn the burning of the two Taliban dead bodies. I hope such incidents will not occur again.&#34

Karzai on Thursday ordered an inquiry into television footage that purportedly shows U.S. soldiers burning the bodies of the two dead Taliban fighters to taunt other militants. The U.S. military also launched an investigation.

Cremating bodies is banned under Islam, and one Muslim leader in Afghanistan compared the video to photographs of U.S. troops abusing prisoners at Iraq”s Abu Ghraib prison.

&#34Abu Ghraib ruined the reputation of the Americans in Iraq and to me this is even worse,&#34 Faiz Mohammed told The Associated Press from northern Kunduz province. &#34This is against Islam. Afghans will be shocked by this news. It is so humiliating. There will be very, very dangerous consequences from this.&#34

A cleric in Kabul, Said Mohammed Omar, said, &#34The burnings of these bodies is an offense against Muslims everywhere. Bodies are only burned in hell.&#34

Footage of the alleged act has not been broadcast yet in Afghanistan and though the local media has reported on it, many people were still not aware of it and there have been no demonstrations like anti-American protests in May that turned violent and killed 15 people.

Those riots erupted after Newsweek magazine said U.S. soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility desecrated Islam”s holy book, the Quran. Newsweek later retracted the story.

Worried about the potential for anti-American feelings over this incident, the U.S. State Department said it instructed U.S. embassies around the globe to tell local governments that the reported abuse did not reflect American values.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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