Image: Hamas supporters protes U.S.
Muhamad Ahmed  /  Sipa Press
Supporters of the Islamic militant group Hamas demonstrate Friday in the northern Gaza Strip. Protesters burned U.S. and Israeli flags over alleged desecration of the Quran by interrogators at Guantanamo Bay.
updated 5/14/2005 8:51:51 PM ET 2005-05-15T00:51:51

Yemen’s government and thousands of university students on Saturday added their voices to the Muslim world’s anger over alleged desecration of Islam’s holy book, the Quran, by U.S. troops at the Guantanamo detention facility.

The Arab League, based in Cairo, Egypt, also issued a statement saying if the allegations panned out, Washington should apologize to Muslims.

In Afghanistan, where recent protests against the reported desecration left 15 people dead, President Hamid Karzai blamed the violence on opponents trying to tarnish the country’s image. Another U.S. ally, Pakistan’s President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, called for a thorough investigation.

The denunciations follow protests elsewhere in the Middle East and Asia after Newsweek magazine reported that U.S. interrogators at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, placed Qurans in washrooms to unsettle suspects, and “flushed a holy book down the toilet.”

Many of the 520 inmates at Guantanamo are Muslims.

Campus anger
In the Yemeni capital, thousands of San‘a University students demonstrated on campus, chanting “Death to America!”

The students, surrounded by security forces, carried banners reading, “We will not falter, we will not tolerate insulting the Quran.”

Seven students were arrested, said Radwan Massoud, a student union member.

Yemen’s official news agency, Saba, quoted an unidentified government official as describing the alleged abuse by U.S. soldiers as “dangerous” and “inhumane.”

“Such practices lead to more reactions that harm U.S. interests and obstruct efforts exerted to build bridges of understanding and dialogue between religions and cultures,” Saba quoted the official as saying.

President Ali Abdullah Saleh met Saturday with American Ambassador Thomas C. Krajeski, who denounced the reported desecration and assured the president that an investigation was under way.

'Appropriate action' promised
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has promised “appropriate action” would be taken if the allegations are proven true. The U.S. government has said the desecration charge was being investigated by the Pentagon.

The 22-nation Arab League also criticized the alleged desecration of Islam’s holy book.

“The Arab League asks — if this news is correct — that the U.S. administration deals with these accusations with the required seriousness and punish with the harshest possible penalty all those proven to have played a role in, or planned, such a crime,” it said in a statement.

In Syria, an Islamic research center condemned the alleged desecrations as “sinful practices.”

“We, in the Islamic Ahmed Kiftaro Compound, condemn every abuse that targets the sanctities of any nation and stress on respecting the right of any person to faith,” the center said in a faxed statement Saturday. It urged the United States “to try and punish those who dared (to desecrate) the Quran and apologize to the 1 billion Muslims” in the world.

Fairly calm in Middle East
The Qatari newspaper Al-Watan described the act as “an unusual crime” and said the purported disrespect to the Quran reflects “the depth of hatred inside some Americans toward Islam.” It added that “the U.S. administration’s record about tolerance and dialogue between cultures is a delusion.”

The newspaper went as far as saying such an act merited recalling Arab and Muslim ambassadors from Washington.

The Middle East reaction was calm compared to deadly protests in the past three days in the Afghan capital, Kabul, in which 15 people died. Protesters threw rocks, and police shot back in four Afghan cities.

In Pakistan, which had small protests across the country a day earlier, Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz demanded a thorough U.S. investigation and the punishment of anyone responsible, according to the Associated Press of Pakistan news agency.

In the Gaza Strip on Friday, hundreds of activists from the Islamic militant group Hamas staged an anti-U.S. protest.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Discuss:

Discussion comments

,

Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments