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Protests in Middle East over US Koran abuse
Updated: 2005-05-29 09:31

Thousands of Lebanese and Palestinians held sit-ins across Lebanon after Washington admitted some US guards at Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba had mishandled the Muslim holy book, the Koran.

Muslim clerics hold up copies of the Koran during a demonstration in front of the US embassy in Awkar, east of Beirut, against the alleged desecration of the Koran by US military interrogators. [AFP]

There were similar protests in the Jordanian capital, Amman, when around 1,500 people responded to calls for protest from the Muslim Brotherhood and its political wing, the Islamic Action Front party.

In Lebanon, hundreds of people bearing anti-US placards gathered after weekly prayers in front of the Dar al-Fatwa, seat of the Sunni Muslim clergy, in Beirut.

The Lebanese Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah staged similar sit-ins in its strongholds in Beirut's southern suburbs, the eastern city of Baalbek and the southern port of Tyre.

At the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Helweh in southern Lebanon about 5,000 people held a sit-in in response to a call by Islamic parties, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"Our Koran is a red line," and "With our soul, with our blood, we shall redeem you," chanted the crowd, winding its way through the streets of the camp.

In Jordan, protestors denounced the US, with banners proclaiming: "Our Koran is the light, America is the darkness."

Another read: "Any aggression against the Koran is aggression against all religions."

Protests erupted across the Muslim world after a report in Newsweek magazine early this month said interrogators at the US detention centre in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, threw a Koran in a toilet to rattle Muslim inmates.

In Afghanistan, violence left 15 people dead.

The US-based magazine retracted the story last week after its source expressed doubts.

However the US commander at Guantanamo, Brigadier General Jay Hood, said on Thursday that investigators had found at least five instances in which guards and interrogators at the base Cuba mishandled the Koran, although there was no "credible evidence" it was flushed in a toilet.

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