A Koran Burning Ignored in the U.S. Was News in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Thousands of protesters, enraged by the burning of a Koran at a Florida church, overran a United Nations compound in the Afghan city of Mazar-i-Sharif on Friday, killing at least 12 people.

The incident that so enraged Afghans, the burning of a Koran after a mock trial in a small Florida church on March 20, was barely noticed in the United States but widely reported in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Mr. Jones presided over the “International Judge the Koran Day” event, after which one copy of the Muslim holy book was “executed,” on camera, before 30 congregants.

Paris ‘Little Kabul’ shelters Afghan boys

According to IslamOnline.net, every evening as many as 100 Afghan refugee boys arrive at the Villemin Square, in Paris’ trendy 10th district, to roll out their blankets and sleeping bags. Exhausted and without resources, they are struggling to rebuild their lives in the West. According to the refugee advocacy group France Terre d’Asile (France Land of Refuge), there were 683 migrants under the age of 18 have in the French capital in 2008, up from 480 in 2007. The group complains of lack of enough help to the Afghan refugees.

Dominique Bordin, the director for protection of minors at the group, said there are only 28 beds to shelter the boys.

The number of Afghan asylum seekers rose by 85 percent compared to an average of 12 percent for other migrants. France ranks third in the world in 2008 for the number of asylum requests, after the United States and Canada.

Afghans again seek permission for center; Fliers labeled them terrorists

A local Afghan group will be back before a San Diego community planning committee tomorrow seeking approval for a religious and cultural center — and hoping this time not to be branded as terrorists. That’s what happened in June, when the Afghani Community Islamic Center first proposed moving into a former bank building in Serra Mesa. A near-record crowd of more than 100 turned out for an informational hearing, many alarmed by anonymous fliers they had found on lampposts and in their mailboxes exclaiming, “No Terrorists in Our Community!” Planning group leaders say the fliers were circulated by a small handful of opponents, at least one of whom apologized afterward. “We’re Americans. We’re not terrorists,” said Akbar Sadat, a board member for the center. “We live here. Our kids grow up here.” The county is home to about 10,000 Afghans, Sadat said. Many live in San Diego, but just as many are in outlying cities such as El Cajon and Vista. The majority have been in the United States at least 10 to 20 years and are U.S. citizens, he said. Sadat, 48, a microchip design engineer who has lived in San Diego for 26 years, said the Afghan center was chartered in 1994. It has operated out of a series of leased spaces in Kearny Mesa and Miramar, offering prayer services and cultural programs to its 400 to 500 members. The center bought the 7,300-square-foot bank building on Sandrock Road near Gramercy Drive for $1.5 million in January 2006 because of its central location. Members donated and raised the $500,000 down payment, abandoning their Miramar lease to pay the $10,000 mortgage in Serra Mesa, Sadat said. But the proposed relocation has been delayed months by building and code upgrades insisted upon by city officials. Serra Mesa Community Planning Group chairman Doug Wescott said projects like this go through two steps with his group — an informational presentation at one monthly meeting, then a vote of the 14-member board at another. Sadat said it has taken until now to be ready to ask the planning group for an up-or-down vote. It’s on the agenda for tomorrow’s 7 p.m. meeting at the Serra Mesa-Kearny Mesa Library, 9005 Aero Drive. Sadat said the center would be used mostly for Islamic prayer services on Friday afternoons and for small, informal gatherings on other days of the week. He said it would have a library and other resources to help researchers and the public learn about Afghan culture and Islam. Part of its goal will be to reassure neighbors that local Afghans do not support the Taliban, Sadat said. “Everybody in Afghanistan hates these people,” he said. “Al-Qaeda and (the) Taliban, they’re destroying Afghanistan. They’re destroying my relatives.”