ISLAMABAD – Thousands of Islamists rallied across Pakistan on Friday to protest against alleged desecration of the Koran by U.S. forces at Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
The rallies, called by hardline Islamic groups opposed to Pakistan’s support for the U.S.-led war on terrorism, came hours after a deadly bomb blast at a Muslim shrine in Islamabad that killed at least 19 people and wounded dozens of others.
“We condemn sacrilege of the Koran by the U.S. extremists,” said a banner held by women protesters at a rally in Islamabad attended by about 5,000 people in front of the parliament building about a km (half a mile) from the scene of the blast.
Protesters in the city of Quetta burned effigies of U.S. President George W. Bush and his key allies in the war on terrorism — Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“The desecration of Koran is a part of the conspiracies against Muslims,” pro-Taliban leader and cleric Fazal-ur-Rehman told a rally in the northwestern city of Peshawar, close to the Afghan border.
Similar protests were staged in Karachi, Multan and other cities.
On Thursday, Brig. Gen Jay Hood, commander of the prison at Guantanamo Bay, told a Pentagon briefing that no credible evidence had been found that a Koran had been flushed down a toilet but said U.S. military had identified five incidents of “mishandling of a Koran” at the prison…
Another Update from the Jerusalem Post, “Jerusalem Mufti demands US apology”
The top Muslim cleric in the Holy Land on Friday demanded the US apologize for alleged mishandling of the Quran by American military personnel at a US prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The mufti of Jerusalem, Ikrema Sabri, also called on Muslims around the world to boycott American products during his weekly sermon at the Aksa mosque.
“The United States should apologize to the Muslims for the mishandling of the Quran by US employees in Guantanamo and bring them to court,” he said.
After the prayers, dozens of people, many holding Qurans, chanted anti-American and anti-Israeli slogans, saying both countries are enemies of Islam. The protest ended peacefully.
Meanwhile in Nazareth, more than 5,000 people took part in a protest to condemn US policy. Demonstrators called on the Muslim world to unify against attacks against Islam…