Sunday, April 3, 2011

Obama condemns Quran burning 'bigotry'

US President Barack Obama condemned a US pastor's burning of the Quran as an act of 'extreme intolerance and bigotry'. -- PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON - PRESIDENT Barack Obama on Saturday condemned a US pastor's burning of the Quran, after violent protests at what he called an act of 'extreme intolerance and bigotry' left 17 dead in Afghanistan.

Mr Obama also reiterated his condemnation of the 'outrageous' attacks by protesters as '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,' he added.

Ten people died amid fresh protests that began in the center of the main southern city of Kandahar and spread as police clashed with crowds on Saturday, a day after seven UN staff were killed in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the worst attack on the world body in the country since the 2001 invasion.

'The desecration of any holy text, including the Quran, is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry,' Mr Obama said in a statement honouring those killed in the attacks.

Kandahar is the spiritual heartland of the Taleban, who have fought an insurgency against President Hamid Karzai's government in Kabul and its Western allies since they were ousted by the US-led invasion.

'Death to America' and 'Death to Karzai' chanted the demonstrators. 'They have insulted our Quran,' shouted one. Police had fired into the air to try to deter thousands of protesters marching toward the UN offices and provincial administration headquarters. -- AFP

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