Sunday, April 3, 2011

Is Karzai Playing with Fire in Afghanistan?

Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan first installed in office with the backing of U.S. troops after the fall of the Taliban government following 9/11, has long been accused of playing both sides.

Riots and killings have plagued Afghanistan over the weekend, as angry mobs whipped up by Muslim clerics violently protest the burning of a Koran in a Florida church a few weeks ago. But the proximate cause of these riots may not have been the hateful acts of Terry Jones in Florida but a speech by Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan.

This past Thursday, President Karzai made a speech demanding the U.S. arrest Terry Jones and condemning his Koran burning. Friday, imams began preaching violence in Afghani mosques. The bad news for Karzai is that when the violence spilled out in the streets, the protesters called for death to Karzai as well as death to Americans.

General David Petraeus was forced by events to issue this statement:

In view of the events of recent days, we feel it is important on behalf of ISAF and NATO members in Afghanistan to reiterate our condemnation of any disrespect to the Holy Quran and the Muslim faith. We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Quran. We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Quran. We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Quran, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.
President Barack Obama went further in his statement:

"The desecration of any holy text, including the Koran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry. However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity. No religion tolerates the slaughter and beheading of innocent people, and there is no justification for such a dishonorable and deplorable act."
Back at what he calls the Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville, Florida, Terry Jones and his remaining followers have taken to carrying pistols for self-defense in response to death threats and reports of a contract out to kill him. He told the New York Times:

"It was intended to stir the pot; if you don’t shake the boat, everyone will stay in their complacency. ... Did our action provoke them? Of course. Is it a provocation that can be justified? Is it a provocation that should lead to death?"
No, it can't and it shouldn't, but what is the point of committing the provocation when you know where it will lead? Meanwhile, as his encore to putting the Koran on trial and burning it, Terry Jones is reported as saying he next wants to put the Prophet Mohammed on trial. The definition of insanity is when you keep doing the same thing and expecting different results.

Terry Jones is a crackpot. His followers are crackpots. They should not be taken seriously, unless by other crackpots. The idea that a head of state and other leaders in an Islamic nation should lower themselves to take a few crackpots seriously does not speak well of the leader, the nation, or the religion.

Karzai wants the U.S. Congress to condemn Terry Jones. He should be statisfied with the statements from General Petraeus and President Obama. This may be his excuse to break from the United States. Karzai has gotten in the habbit of demanding apologies from the U.S. when Afghan civilians get mistakenly caught in the fighting. We'll see if he gives an apology to the U.N. and the families of its workers killed in this latest atrocity.

"That actually burned quite well," Terry Jones is reported as saying after his Koran burning. Karzai can say the same thing about what is happening in Afghanistan.

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