KABUL (Reuters) - Hundreds of demonstrators marched towards the palace of Afghan President Hamid Karzai in Kabul on Friday, as a fourth day of protests erupted over the burning of Korans at a NATO base, with riot police and soldiers on high alert.
One protester was wounded by police gunfire, Reuters witnesses said.
Police fired into the air to try to disperse the crowd of men throwing stones and chanting "Death to America!" and "Long live Islam!" after they left the city's Blue Mosque following Friday prayers.
Friday is a holy day and the official weekly holiday in Afghanistan and mosques in the capital drew large crowds, with police in pick-up trucks posted on nearby streets.
Crowds of about 700 protesters also gathered in the eastern city of Jalalabad and the volatile southeastern province of Ghazni, where people chanted "We will defend the Koran!," Reuters witnesses said.
U.S. President Barack Obama sent a letter to Karzai apologizing for the unintentional burning of the Korans at NATO's main Bagram air base, north of Kabul, after Afghan laborers found charred copies while collecting rubbish.
Muslims consider the Koran to be the literal word of God and treat each copy with deep reverence. Desecration is considered one of the worst forms of blasphemy.
Afghanistan wants NATO to put those responsible on public trial...If Obama had the sense or the stones (which, alas, he does not) he would sent the Afghans another letter. This one would say: Dear Afghans. Kindly stick your public trial where the crescent moon--and sharia--don't ever shine.