KABUL, Afghanistan — One of the stranger and more ironic by-products of the Florida Quran-burning incident has been the destruction by fire of many Qurans — several dozen, according to local estimates — in the violence and rage sweeping Kandahar.
One foreign observer, a long-time resident of Kandahar, said he had never heard so much gunfire in the city over such a prolonged period.
In two days of carnage, mobs have torched schools, shops, Internet cafes, many of which carry a copy of the Quran as a matter of course.
“Some crazy guy in Florida burns one Quran and here in Kandahar we burn hundreds,” said one disturbed Kandahar resident. “This is not the Islamic way.”
More than 20 people have now died in protests that have followed the “trial” and “execution” of Islam’s Holy Book in a small and poorly publicized ceremony in Florida on March 20.
Misguided religious fundamentalists are not unique to the United States, of course: the mullahs who whipped up the crowds in Mazar-e-Sharif last Friday are cast in the same mold. It is Afghanistan’s tragedy that circumstances allowed for the mindless riots that cost seven U.N. workers and five Afghans their lives. And it is Afghans, of course, who have paid the price in Kandahar and elsewhere.
“What sense does that make, killing ourselves to protest the act of some American?” grumbled one young Afghan.