Thousands in Afghanistan protest Koran-burning incident in Sweden

Thousands in Afghanistan protest Koran-burning incident in Sweden
By Reuters
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KABUL – Thousands of Afghans held protests on Friday to express anger after a far-right politician publicly set fire to the Koran in Sweden last week.

On Saturday, the anti-immigrant politician from the far-right fringe burned a copy of the holy Muslim book during a protest near the Turkish Embassy in Stockholm.

“Today, Kabul residents in different parts of the city held protests,” Kabul’s police spokesperson Khalid Zadran said on Friday afternoon.

In the northern province of Badakshan, a spokesperson for the provincial government said thousands had gathered after Friday prayers to protest.

“They were saying ‘Death to Sweden, U.S.A and U.N’.,” said Mahzudden Ahmadi. “They said such actions shouldn’t be repeated, also they asked Islamic Emirate to have a strong position against such actions,” he added, referring to the Taliban administration.

Earlier in the week, the Taliban-run Afghan foreign ministry had called on the Swedish government to punish the individual and to prevent any similar incidents taking place.

Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom has said that Islamophobic provocations were appalling. The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations has also condemned the incident and a U.S. State Department spokesperson said it was a “deeply disrespectful act.”

The Koran burning was carried out by Rasmus Paludan, leader of Danish far-right political party Hard Line, during protests in Stockholm against Turkey and Sweden’s bid to join NATO. Paludan, who also has Swedish citizenship, has held a number of demonstrations in the past where he has burned the Koran.

In 2011, violent protests took place in Afghanistan over the burning of a Koran by a radical fundamentalist Christian in the United States. Protesters over-ran a U.N. mission in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif and killed seven foreign staff. Demonstrations gripped the country for days, and dozens of protesters and police were killed and wounded.

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