Senior Afghan clerics said on Friday a US apology for the burning of copies of the Muslim holy book at a NATO base last month would never be accepted, and demanded a trial and punishment for those who committed the “evil act.”
“Those who committed this crime must be publicly tried and punished,” members of a senior council of clerics said after meeting President Hamid Karzai, according to a statement issued by his office. “The council strongly condemns this crime and inhumane, savage act by American troops by desecrating holy books of the Quran.” Despite an apology from US President Barack Obama, the desecration of the Qurans at Bagram airbase ignited a wave of anti-Western fury across the country. Muslims consider the Quran the literal word of God and treat each book with deep reverence. At least 30 people were killed in the protests. The Quran burnings hurt US efforts to win more trust from Afghans, an essential part of efforts to weaken the Taliban and force the militant group to negotiate an end to the war now in its eleventh year. String of attacks on NATO troops by Afghan security forces followed the Quran burnings, including the high-profile killing of two US officers in the heavily guarded Interior Ministry.