February 27th, 2012
12:19 PM ET
By Paul Courson, CNN
Washington (CNN)– After a weekend that saw continued deadly violence in Afghanistan triggered by what the U.S. says was the inadvertent burning of Qurans, an American Muslim group says outreach here is unlikely to help over there.
On Friday, a ranking Pentagon official visited a prominent mosque in the outside Washington and apologized for last week's incident, which involved copies of the Quran and other religious tracts that had been
"On behalf of Secretary Panetta, and the Department of Defense, I offer my sincere regret for the incident at Bagram Air Base," said Acting Assistant Secretary of Defense Peter Lavoy.
But an Islamic activist group Monday suggested that the U.S. is preaching to the wrong choir if officials hope they can reach those in Afghanistan who have been perpetrating the violence.
Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), told CNN "it's not like we can call people in Afghanistan and say 'okay, stop it now.'"
CAIR, among the largest Muslim activist organizations in the U.S., believes the violent Afghan reaction to the burning of the Quran is symbolic of greater frustration at the continued presence of foreign
On Monday, a suicide bombing at a military airfield that the Taliban said was in retaliation for the Quran burning reportedly left 9 dead and 12 wounded.
Hooper said "It'll take leaving Afghanistan, letting the Afghan people figure out their own problems," to resolve friction between the local community and foreign troops.
But the mosque's cleric, Imam Mohamed Magid, said the Prophet Muhammad, speaking through the Quran, prohibits violence and a lack of respect for human life.
He told worshipers on Friday that they must "live by the book" in peace and avoid violent reactions like those seen among fellow Muslims in Afghanistan.
After the prayer service, Magid told reporters that "violence that we have seen taking place in Afghanistan is unacceptable, from Islamic perspective, and that's why we will continue this conversation with Muslim colleagues in Afghanistan."
Magid said it was unprecedented to have a ranking American military official address the All-Dulles Area Muslim Society, which he said is one of the largest Islamic congregations in the U.S.
Lavoy used the occasion to publicly accept blame for the incident.
"Our military neglected, out of ignorance, long-established correct procedures for handling religious materials," said Lavoy, "even as we were fighting to help the Afghan people secure and govern their
Lavoy was accompanied by a uniformed U.S. Army chaplain who tried to emphasize the military's remorse over the incident.
"I stand before you this afternoon looking at this as another teaching moment, as another opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with my colleagues in ministry, to find ways and opportunities to come
Many of the worshipers responded to him in Arabic with affirmation.
Various U.S. officials have sent emails of regret to Islamic groups across the country, according to CAIR, but Hooper, the group's spokesman, downplayed the influence the outreach may have over events in
The people there, Hooper maintains, will remain provoked by "the mind-boggling actions of people who've been in the country a decade and still don't understand the cultural and religious sensitivities."
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