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Afghan mullahs push peaceful protest in wake of Quran-burning violence

More Qurans were inadvertently burned during recent Afghan protests than by the US pastor Terry Jones. Spiritual leaders in Kandahar called a meeting to teach Afghans how to channel their passions peacefully.

Afghan protesters beat a burning effigy of U.S. President Barack Obama during a demonstration in Jalalabad, Afghanistan on Sunday, April 3.

Rahmat Gul/AP

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As the dust settles in Afghanistan after sustained protest over a Florida pastor's Quran burning, many residents in Kandahar are facing an unpleasant truth: More Qurans were burned in the course of their protests than by Terry Jones.

The demonstrations, which started peacefully, quickly turned violent, killing at least nine people and injuring scores in Kandahar City alone. And as protesters vandalized a girls’ school and set fire to shops, Qurans also inadvertently went up in flames.

“If they burn a shop, there is a Quran in every shop, so this is a big problem,” says Azizullah Aziz, a perfume and soap salesman in Kandahar City. “People don’t know how to protest.”

On Wednesday, the province’s top spiritual leaders moved to address the irony – and promote restraint at a time when passions are running high over the US war effort. They called a shura, or meeting, and told the crowd of several hundred people that gathered in a tent at Kandahar University how to protest in an Islamic manner.

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