Koran Burning Linked to Killings in Afghanistan
As Pastor Terry Jones revels in his victory against Islam while he basks in the Florida sun thousands of miles away savoring both limelight and vindication, the city of Kabul, from where I write, and the rest of Afghanistan has been declared “White City”, which is a United Nations order requiring that all of its personnel remain locked down in their compounds.
Although “White City” is technically a UN security alert…its highest security alert…it is a well-known and long-standing signal to everyone else on the ground here, both Afghan and foreigner alike, that extreme danger is at hand and that they too should secure themselves accordingly. Credible rumor has it that the UN will decide in the next few hours whether to completely pull out of the country, despite multiple assertions to the contrary by the UN Special Representative to Afghanistan, Staffan de Mistura, who is based in Kabul.
Given the current situation on the ground, the decision to stay or go seems relatively moot, since what will now be even more heightened security will only serve to eclipse the UN’s current mandate here, such as it is. (To provide political and strategic advice for the peace process; provide good offices; help the government implement the Afghanistan Compact, the Afghanistan National Development Strategy and the National Drugs Control Strategy; promote human rights; provide technical assistance; and continue to manage and coordinate all UN-led humanitarian relief, recovery, reconstruction and development activities in Afghanistan.)
If the UN mandate’s first order of business is to “provide political and strategic advice for the peace process”, then its presence in this place is wasted, given that the mission was established here almost a decade ago and there is not a peace process in sight for it to advise on and there never will be. All the UN can do here is to try to pick up the pieces after and while the US does its destructive thing in a military mission with no purpose and no end.
There should never have been the need for a UN mission in Mazar-e-Sharif in the first place, despite its good works. Those dedicated UN staffers who were killed this week should not be dead. The protestors should have vented their anger peacefully, and Terry Jones should have kept his black-hearted blasphemy in Gainesville, Florida, rather than premeditatively and sinfully using it to turn Afghanistan “white.” If Mr. Jones was so hell-bent on making his point, he could have brought his kerosene-soaked Quran to Mazar-e-Sharif himself and set it ablaze in the physical presence of those whom he despises so much, but that would have required a courage about which he knows nothing….a courage which was reserved for those who were murdered in his place.
As I conclude this piece, my window is open and I am listening to the first call to prayer of the day being beautifully sung at the nearby mosque. Enshallah (God willing), today will be a peaceful day here. Enshallah, the UN staffers who were killed have found their own peace.
Kabul, Afghanistan April 4, 2011
Kathleen Kirwin is a trial attorney specializing in high-level civil rights and criminal cases and is currently based in Sarasota, Florida. She also practices international human rights and criminal law and has been an anti-war activist for the past 40 years. She is currently in Afghanistan.