Kasuri slams Gitmo Quran ‘desecration’

Associated Press

Sydney, May 13

Pak clerics rail against US, label Musharraf a ‘dog’

Pakistan’s foreign minister today condemned the alleged desecration of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, at the US military camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Speaking at the Lowy Institute, an independent foreign policy think tank in Sydney, Khursheed Kasuri urged Washington to investigate a Newsweek magazine report that military interrogators flushed a copy of the Quran down the toilet to rattle Muslim detainees at the facility.

Kasuri said the Bush administration should take “very strong action” to investigate the incident and punish those responsible.

In Washington yesterday, US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said military authorities were investigating the reports and would take “appropriate action” if they proved to be true.

Meanwhile, Muslim clerics in Pakistan lashed out at the US today over the alleged desecration of the Quran, but few people showed up for protests.

The rallies followed days of protests and riots in Afghanistan that have claimed at least 11 lives with four people killed in clashes with police today as demonstrations spread to more Afghan cities.

A hardline opposition Islamic coalition, Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, had appealed for Muslims to protest in major cities after Friday prayers, but in Islamabad, Lahore, Peshawar, Quetta, Multan and Karachi no more than a few hundred turned out.

“We are hurt ... If we don’t rise against Americans today, they will do it again,” cleric Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, an MMA leader, told worshippers at a mosque in Islamabad. Speaking to about 150 supporters in Islamabad, MMA chief Qazi Hussain Ahmed branded Pakistan’s President Gen Pervez Musharraf a “dog” for his alliance with Washington.

Pakistan had stepped up security ahead of the rallies, and the United Nations closed its offices early as a precaution.

Mob hunts for Americans

JAKARTA: About 50 protesters angry at the alleged desecration of the Quran by US troops at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp demonstrated on Friday outside three hotels in eastern Indonesia, demanding they hand over any Americans inside. The demonstrators were blocked from entering the hotels in Makassar, witnesses said.

“We just want to warn them that their countrymen have insulted Islam,” said protest leader Ibnu Hajar, adding that they were not intending to harm the guests. It was not clear whether any Americans were staying at the hotels. — AP