Demonstrations against the anti-Islam YouTube clip turned violent in Kabul Monday. Afghan clerics haven't pushed for public protests. Instead demonstrators took their cues from news of riots elsewhere.
Demonstrations against the anti-Islam YouTube video flared in Kabul on Monday, following days of unrest and similar protests throughout the Middle East and Africa. Afghanistan has seen several small-scale protests in recent days, but Monday marked the first time since the release of the controversial video that hundreds of demonstrators gathered for a protest that turned violent.
The protesters marched down a major road on the outskirts of Kabul toward Camp Phoenix, a NATO base here. Police officials say the demonstration lasted about 90 minutes and escalated when demonstrators began throwing large rocks at police, injuring dozens of people. Protesters also set fire to two police vehicles, leaving one completely destroyed, and damaged several local shops.
“The people were really angry,” says Rashid Khan, a grocer whose store was damaged during the demonstrations. “Even if they tried to burn my shop I wouldn’t have tried to stop them.”
In the wake of international incidents involving the desecration of Islamic symbols or beliefs, Afghanistan has often been one of the first and only Muslim countries to see widespread, violent demonstrations. Following the controversial video, however, Afghanistan remained largely quiet, with many local religious leaders reportedly calling for calm, even as the Middle East and Africa erupted in violence.