Koran Burning Incident of 2012



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Afghan War News > Events > Koran Burning Incident - February 20, 2012

On February 20, 2012 a group of American Soldiers at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan were disposing of copies of the Koran.  The Korans had been used by Taliban prisoners to exchange messages within the prison and were seized by the U.S. prison guards.  Unfortunately, the guards determined that they would dispose of the Korans by burning them.  Several Afghan workers realized what had happened and rescued some of the Korans from being incinerated.  A few of the workers managed to smuggle the burned Korans out of the U.S. military base and show them to Afghans in Kabul.

Cultural and Religious Affront.  The burning of the Koran is a serious issue and is considered to be a deep insult to Islam. U.S. troops are often oblivious to the cultural aspects of the conflict in Afghanistan; and regrettably, incidents such as the inadvertant Koran burning happen from time to time.  In addition, some Afghans have a distaste for Western behavior and values.  3.  This is not the first time that a Koran burning incident has incited Afghan demonstrations and caused a tense atmosphere.  In July 2010 a pastor of the Christian Dove World Outreach Center in Gainseville, Florida - Terry Jones - announced he would burn 200 Quarns on the 2010 anniversary of the September 11 attacks. This spark protests around the world.  7.

Riots.  Riots soon spread across Afghanistan once the word got out about what happened.  More than 30 Afghans were killed in the riots.

Coalition Members Killed.  Several coalition military members were killed by Afghan military members during the period of the Koran burnings. The motivation for six of the deaths are attributed to the Koran burnings.

How did it happen?  According to military investigators the Korans were removed from the Bagram Air Base prison after extremist messages were found in the books.  The books were then placed in an office for safekeeping.  At some point the books were then taken out of the office and burned on a landfill on the base after being mistaken for garbage. The ISAF command has launched a formal investigation into the incident.  1.

U.S. Apologies.  President Obama was forced to issue an apology to President Karzai and the Afghanistan people by way of a letter and phone call. The incident put a tremendous strain on the relations between the coalition and Afghan military.  While criticized by republicans for the apology 2. Obama felt it was necessary to repair the damaged relations and to protect US servicemen from more attacks. In addition, the overall commander of ISAF, General Allen, has apologized.  The U.S. State Department issued an apology as did the Pentagon.  4.

Tense Relations.  General Allen, the ISAF commander, had to withdraw coalition advisors from the Afghan ministries for several days after two advisors were shot by an Afghan intelligence officer in the Ministry of Interior.  5.  The Koran burning event will very likely affect U.S. and Afghan troops working relationship far into the future.  6.

News Articles about the Koran Burning Incident of February 2012

March 10, 2012.  "Koran Burning in Afghanistan: Mistake, Crime, and Metaphor".  By Richard Falk, Foreign Policy Journal.

March, 2, 2012.  "U.S. probe of Koran burning finds 5 troops responsible, officials say: Afghans demand trial".  The Washington Post.

February 29, 2012. "Koran Burning in Afghanistan Prompts 3 Parallel Inquiries".  The New York Times.

February 28, 2012.  "Obama Gets Heat for Quran-Burning Apology".  NPR.

February 24, 2012.  "Koran burning: Should the United States stop apologizing?"  The Washington Post.

February 23, 2012.  "U.S. response to Koran burning could fan flames, analysts warn".  Fox News.

February 21, 2012.  "Afghans vent fury over Koran burning, U.S. apologizes".  Reuters.

February 21, 2012.  "Afghanistan erupts over Koran burning".  The Telegraph.






1.  For more on the investigations see Koran Burning in Afghanistan Prompts 3 Parallel Inquires, The New York Times, February 29, 2012.  Accessed here March 2012.

2.  For Republican criticism of the apology see Rick Santorum: Obama Wrong to Apologize for Koran Burning, ABC News, February 26, 2012.  Accessed here March 2012.

3.  See Afghan anger over Koran burning an emblem of nation's culture war, Los Angeles Times, February 25, 2012.  Accessed here March 2012.

4.  See Gen. John Allen Stands by U.S. Apology for Koran burning, ABC News, March 5, 2012.  Accessed here March 2012.

5.  See Two NATO soldiers killed inside Afghan interior ministry, officials say, The Washington Post, February 24, 2012.  Accessed here March 2012.

6.  See The Koran-Burning Riots: Can U.S. and Afghan Troops Work Together?, Time World, February 26, 2012.  Accessed here March 2012.

7.  For more on the Terry Jones Koran burning incident of July 2010 see Dove World Outreach Center Quran-burning controversy, WikipediA.  Accessed here March 2012.







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