Koran Burning: It’s Not Afghans’ #1 Concern

Despite what you may be hearing and seeing, the vast majority of Afghans are not bothered by the accidental burning of Korans by US troops. They have more important issues to worry about.

The violent reaction against the burning has drawn universal media coverage — the actual feelings of most Afghans less so.

That media coverage has driven reactions such as that of Newt Gingrich, who said:

“I would not risk the life of a single American. . . in a country whose religious fanatics are trying to kill us and whose government seems to be on the side of the fanatics.”

Here are the facts: According to a recent poll, “foreign interference” is the least important issue for Afghans.

The most important issues? 1. Insecurity (38%) 2. Unemployment (23%) 3. Corruption (21%) 4. Poverty (12%), 5. Poor economy (10%), 6. Lack of education (10%), 7. The Taliban (8%), 8. Suicide attacks (8%) 9. Foreign interference (7%).

The same Asia Foundation poll found Afghan support for equal rights regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion at 82%, and for equal educational opportunities for women at 85%.

Many Afghans are upset about the burnings — but far more angry about the protests. In rare coverage of Afghan opinion, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon spoke to Afghan women’s representatives for the Daily Beast.

“Most people are more angry at the protesters than at the U.S. troops who did it,” Manizha Naderi, executive director of Women for Afghan Women, told Lemmon. “One person actually said, ‘When the Taliban are blowing up schools or mosques, aren’t they burning the Quran? Mosques are filled with hundreds of copies of the Quran. How come no one is saying anything about this?’”

Afghan MP Fawzia Koofi told Lemmon that “a few hundred people in the streets does not represent the Afghan nation.”

“I condemn the fact that there was a disrespect to my religion and to the Holy Quran, but I condemn also those who misuse and try to politicize any emotional feeling of my people,” she said.

Lemmon reported that the protests were deliberately stirred up by the Taliban using the internet.

Koofi said that there was a reason why the images of the protests featured no women: they understand the stakes are too high, for themselves and their children.

Related stories:

Women Protest New Law in Afghanistan

EU Censors Own Film On Afghan Women Prisoners

Rachel Maddow Goes to Kabul (VIDEO)


Eternal Gardener
Eternal G5 years ago


Sue T.
Susan T5 years ago

we should get out now.

Megan Camarena
Megan Camarena5 years ago

Interesting perspective, and one that is lacking in mainstream media.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon5 years ago

Elaine, you're absolutely right about the need to be concerned about extremists...in other parts of the world, and in our own country.

Miranda Lyon
Miranda Lyon5 years ago

It isn't surprising that the concerns of most Afgan people are the same concerns of most people in the world.

Wim Zunnebeld
Wim Zunnebeld5 years ago

Noted Thanks

Elaine A.
Elaine Al Meqdad5 years ago

Of course not...It's their radical extremists they need to be concerned with!

eusebio vestias
Eusebio vestias5 years ago

O pais hoje tem muitas pessoas que olham para o futuro de outra maneira e são religiosos mas querem fazer as suas vidas eu também concordo que os textos religiosos nunca devem ser destruidos

Jennifer C.
Past Member 5 years ago

Thank you.

Ruth P.
Ruth P5 years ago

Elizabeth K., I'm sure they do condemn it. I want to see the American people condemning each and every one of their soldiers for the actions of a few, too :) It's rude to ask for something you wouldn't give, after all.