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Protests continue in Afghanistan against Quran burning

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Demonstrators protest peacefully in Kabul against Quran burning
  • Organizer: protesters want Florida pastor to be sent to an Islamic country for punishment
  • Earlier demonstrations have turned deadly
  • Protests were sparked by a Florida pastor's burning of the Muslim holy book

Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) -- A demonstration in Kabul on Thursday over the burning of a Quran by a U.S. pastor was peaceful, even if the rhetoric from protesters was not.

"The protesters were calling 'Death to America,' 'Death to Obama,'" protest organizer Abdul Fatah Jawad told CNN. "(W)e blame Terry Jones for his action (but) we also believe that American government is behind this burning of the Quran."

"Also, we have sent an official letter to the Afghan government demanding Terry Jones be sent to court in one of the Islamic countries for punishment," Jawad said.

The organizer said teachers, students and ordinary Afghans took part in the demonstration while police kept an eye.

Hashmutullah Stanekzai, spokesman for the Kabul police, confirmed that the demonstration was peaceful. He said about 100 police were deployed to monitor protesters, who numbered around 500, and that they went home after about an hour.

On Tuesday, 1,000 people demonstrated without incident amid a heavy police presence, said Kabul City police official Abdullah Mahboob.

This week's demonstrations marked a contrast with earlier protests, some of which turned deadly.

On Sunday, police and stone-throwing demonstrators clashed in Kandahar with as many as three people killed in the violence.

At least nine people were killed and 73 injured in Kandahar on Saturday, and 12 people died Friday -- including seven U.N. employees -- when angry demonstrators stormed a U.N. compound in Mazar-e Sharif.

The demonstrations were sparked by the actions of controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones, who presided over what he called a trial of the Quran on March 20.

The holy book of Islam was "found guilty" by members of Jones' tiny church and burned, according to a release posted on the church's website.

Afghan President Hamid Karzai strongly condemned the burning as did various U.S. officials, including U.S. President Barack Obama.

"The desecration of any holy text ... is an act of extreme intolerance and bigotry," he said Saturday in a statement released by the White House. "However, to attack and kill innocent people in response is outrageous, and an affront to human decency and dignity."