Afghan Dog Fighters Vent Anti-American Rage after Koran Burnings, Massacre

| by Phyllis M Daugherty

The accidental burning of several copies of the Koran by five American soldiers at a nearby NATO airbase has engendered a deep desire for revenge against the United States by Afghan dogfighters who are, “…venting their rage over the incident at a bloody Kabul dog fighting ring,” according to a Reuters report on March 2, 2012.

Nearly all the people of Kabul are Muslim, which includes the majority Sunnis and minority Shias.

“If emotions here are any indication, desecration of copies of the Muslim holy book did lasting damage to the image of the United States, which is struggling to pacify the country before NATO combat troops plan to leave at the end of 2014,” writes Michael Georgy. "We call the dogs who lose Americans. We are furious about the Korans," said Mirwais Haji, 28, at a recent Friday dog-fight event. "We want the Afghan government to bring the people who did this to us. We will kill them ourselves," quotes the Reuters’ report.

This Anti-American rage is now further compounded by the March 11 tragedy in which a U.S. Army soldier allegedly went on a shooting rampage in a village in southern Afghanistan, killing at least 16 innocent civilians and wounding five more, including women and children.

This was described by Afghan president Hamid Karzai as an "unforgivable assassination.” NATO was already rethinking its planned strategy to replace large combat units with advisors after the killing of two U.S. officers by an Afghan policeman in the Interior Ministry.

The alliance had hoped to pressure the Taliban to negotiate an end to the eleven-year war, but even a personal apology from President Obama did not ease anger or the growing tension. “The Koran burning incident underscored how U.S.-led NATO troops still fail to grasp Afghanistan's religious and cultural sensitivities despite their long presence in the country,” the report posits. Although previously outlawed under the Taliban as ”un-Islamic,”Afghan dog fights are a weekly event in the area bordering the narrow valley where Kabul nestles between the Hindu Kush mountain ranges.

Thousands of spectators and dog owners gather in a circle on Friday mornings to watch up to 200 to 300 large Afghan fighting dogs, known as Kuchis or Caucasian Shepherds, attack each other in 30-second bouts. The dog fights usually end in one of the animals surrendering or being injured, and do not continue to the point of death as do dog fights in most Western countries. However, in an atypical photo taken at a recent fight scene, an Afghan man is opening the trunk of his vehicle to display a bewildered Pit Bull.

It may not be coincidental that the “All American Dog” is being introduced at the peak of anti-American hostility, and the vengeful sentiment against the U.S. does not bode well for the treatment of the American Pit Bull Terrier. Some of the attendees consider the dog fights entertainment and a venue for gambling, with up to $4,000 wagered on a single fight. But for others, Reuters reports, the fights are “…an escape from frustrations over everything from unemployment, to the war to rampant government corruption.” People at a recent dog fight were still riveted by the Koran burnings. Gripped by anti-American hatred, they cheered on dogs who growled, stood on their hind legs and tore at each other's throats, the report cites.

"We are tired of the Americans and what they do with the Korans and other incidents," said Akmal Bahadoor, 18, an airport employee. "When we watch these dogs it's a way of expressing our anger against the Americans. We think the Americans are being attacked." "Even if the people who did this [burned the Korans] are prosecuted. The anger will never, ever go away. It will always be stuck in my heart," 30-year-old Khalil Bazar told Reuters.

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