Protesters Denounce Pastor's Plan To Burn Quran

KABUL, Afghanistan — Hundreds of Afghans railed against the United States and called for President Barack Obama's death at a rally in the capital Monday to denounce an American church's plans to burn the Islamic holy book on Sept. 11. The crowd in Kabul, numbering as many as 500, chanted "Long live Islam" and "Death to America" as they listened to fiery speeches from members of parliament, provincial council deputies, and Islamic clerics who criticized the U.S. and demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. Some threw rocks when a U.S. military convoy passed, but speakers shouted at them to stop and told police to arrest anyone who disobeyed. The Gainesville, Florida-based Dove World Outreach Center announced plans to burn copies of the Quran on church grounds to mark the ninth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, but has been denied a permit to set a bonfire. The church, which made headlines last year after distributing T-shirts that said "Islam is of the Devil," has vowed to proceed with the burning. "We know this is not just the decision of a church. It is the decision of the president and the entire United States," said Abdul Shakoor, an 18-year-old high school student who said he joined the protest after hearing neighborhood gossip about the Quran burning. The U.S. Embassy in Kabul issued a statement condemning Dove World Outreach Center's plans. Protesters who had gathered in front of Kabul's Milad ul-Nabi mosque raised placards and flags emblazoned with slogans calling for the death of Obama, while police looked on. They burned American flags and a cardboard effigy of Dove World Outreach Center's pastor, Terry Jones, before dispersing peacefully. Muslims consider the Quran to be the word of God and demand it, along with any printed material containing its verses or the name of Allah or the Prophet Muhammad, be treated with the utmost respect.