Newsweek magazine has retracted a story that erroneously claimed that U.S. soldiers had desecrated the Holy Koran while interrogating a terrorist suspect at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says, "Disrespect for the holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States":
"Disrespect for the holy Koran is abhorrent to us all. . . .Respect for the religious freedom of all individuals is one of the founding principles of the United States."
Peaceful demonstrations were reported in Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Palestinian territories. But at least fifteen people were killed and many others were injured during violent demonstrations in Afghanistan following this story’s publication. According to news reports, security forces fired on demonstrators who were stoning government buildings and relief agency facilities.
The violence began in the eastern Afghan city of Jalalabad. Sardar Shah, an Afghan official, said, "There is a lot of damage in the city. They have burned a lot of things." Mr. Shah says, "These are the enemies of peace and stability in Afghanistan who don't want people to be able to get on with their lives in peace."
Agha is a merchant in Ghazni, a city in east central Afghanistan. He told the Washington Post newspaper, "Others took advantage of our demonstration." Bismallah, a tailor in Ghazni, told the Post reporter, "We should have waited for proof [of the alleged Koran desecration]."
The U.S. is "saddened about the loss of life" in Afghanistan, says White House spokesman Scott McClellan. The U.S., he says, calls on "all our friends. . . .to reject the incitement to violence by those who would mischaracterize the views and the values of the United States."
The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.