Gen. Petraeus: Burning Quran endangers troops in Afghanistan

The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan has warned that an American church's threat to burn copies of the Muslim holy book the Quran could endanger U.S. troops in the country and Americans worldwide.

"Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan — and around the world — to inflame public opinion and incite violence," Gen. David Petraeus said in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

His comments followed a protest Monday by hundreds of Afghans over the plans by Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center — an evangelical Christian church that espouses anti-Islam philosophy — to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States that provoked the Afghan war.

Petraeus warned images of burning Qurans could be used to incite anti-American sentiments similar to the pictures of prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Graib prison.

"I am very concerned by the potential repercussions of the possible (Quran) burning," Petraeus said in his message. "Were the actual burning to take place, the safety of our soldiers and civilians would be put in jeopardy and accomplishment of the mission would be made more difficult."

The U.S. Embassy in Kabul also issued a statement condemning the church's plans, saying Washington was "deeply concerned about deliberate attempts to offend members of religious or ethnic groups."

 


News Code 41753

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