Monday, May 23, 2005

"What the hell are you doing?"

For the record, here is what President Hamad Karzai had to say about Newsweek and the Koran issue and the abuse of prisoners in Afghanistan.

QUESTION: Just to follow up on the treatment of the prisoners, Mr. President, you know, anti-American feeling is running high in the Muslim world. We've seen it in Afghanistan after the alleged disintegration of the Koran in Guantanamo.

After meeting with the president, how do you assure the Muslim world and Afghan people, that they've seen death as a result of the article, that this incident in Bagram and other treatment of prisoners isolated incident and it's not systemic?


KARZAI: Ma'am, yes, we discussed those questions.

On the demonstrations, or the so-called demonstrations in part of the -- parts of Afghanistan, you saw that government buildings were burned and private property was damaged, broken. Those demonstrations were in reality not related to the Newsweek story. They were more against the elections in Afghanistan.

KARZAI: They were more against the elections in Afghanistan. They were more against the progress in Afghanistan. They were more against the strategic partnership with the United States.

We know who did it. We know the guys. We know the people behind those demonstrations. And unfortunately you don't, here, follow the Afghan press. But if you listen to the Voice of America, the Radio Liberty and the BBC, the Afghan population condemned those acts of arson in Afghanistan.

Of course, we are, as Muslims, very much unhappy with Newsweek bringing a matter so serious in the gossip column. It's really something that one shouldn't do, that responsible journalism shouldn't do at all.

KARZAI: But Newsweek story is not America's story. That's what we understand in Afghanistan.

America has over 1,000 mosques. I have gone and prayed in mosques here in America. I've prayed in Virginia. I've gone and prayed in Maryland. I've been to a mosque in Washington.

And thousands of Afghans have been to mosques and, as a matter of fact, hundreds of thousands of Muslims are going, on a daily basis, to mosques in America and praying.

And this is what was also reflected in Afghanistan. People spoke in the mosques, the clergy, and said, "What the hell are you doing?"

There's a respect, there's this freedom in America for religion, and there are Muslims, on a daily basis, praying in mosques in America. And there are Korans, holy Korans, all over America -- in homes and mosques.

So it was a political act against Afghanistan's stability, which we have condemned, which the Afghan people have condemned.

On the issue of prisoners, I spoke earlier. It does not reflect at all on American people. On the contrary, it's an individual act, just like that bad Afghan kidnapped an Italian lady and is not the work of the Afghan people. In the same way, we treat this case.

I think the "What the hell are you doing?" could rightly be directed at the MSM, who seem to be fanatically (one could almost say, religiously) determined to portray both the Koran flushing (which didn't even happen) and the prisoner abuse stories as foolproof evidence of the decline and fall of the United States (don't they just wish).

IMHO, in this case--as in so many others-- the MSM are completely out of touch with reality.

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