NBC Reporter Claims Quran Burnings Latest in 'A Long Line of Insults' to Afghanistan by U.S.
Reporting on violent protests in Afghanistan following accidental Quran burnings for Monday's NBC Today, correspondent Atia Abawi declared the incident "...follows a long line of insults that has intensified the public outrage towards the U.S., including last year's intentional burning of a Koran by a pastor in Florida and the video of U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Compare that declaration to how Abawi portrayed Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai as the peace-keeper amid the crisis: "Karzai once again tried to diffuse the anger, saying, 'Our emotions were shown all over the country regarding this, it is time now to return to calm and keep it.'" There was no mention of Karzai's demand that the soldiers responsible for destroying the religious texts should be put on trial and punished.
Also missing from Abawi's Monday report was any mention of reports that the Qurans in question were being used to spread violent extremist messages among detained terror suspects in U.S. custody in Afghanistan.
In addition, criticism of President Obama's apology for the incident was left out of the report.
Here is a full transcript of the February 27 report:
MATT LAUER: Now to Afghanistan and the rise in violence sparked by the burning of Qurans by American troops there. There was a fresh attack outside an airport overnight on the heels of the murders of two U.S. military advisers inside an Afghan government compound. NBC's Atia Abawi is in Kabul. Atia, good morning to you.
ATIA ABAWI: Good morning, Matt. A suicide car bomb struck the gates of a military airport in eastern Afghanistan today, killing nine Afghans. And there are also possible reports of a poisoning at a U.S. base. The military says they're investigating the incident but no one has been injured. This follows seven days of unrelenting anger.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Quran Controversy; Explosion Erupts Near Airport in Afghanistan]
It's been a week of rage, frustration, and bloodshed, and the anger shows no signs of letting up.
Just this morning, a suicide bomber struck the airport and base at Jalalabad in eastern Afghanistan. Four Americans and more than 30 Afghans have been killed since U.S. soldiers at Bagram Airbase accidentally burned Korans and other religious materials last week. Despite repeated apologies from both U.S. and NATO officials, the situation remains very tense.
President Hamid Karzai once again tried to diffuse the anger, saying, "Our emotions were shown all over the country regarding this, it is time now to return to calm and keep it." Karzai also offered his condolences for the families of the Americans who were slain because of the ensuing chaos.
Last Thursday, 25-year-old Sargent Joshua Born and 22-year-old Corporal Timothy Conrad Jr., were killed during the protests by an Afghan soldier who turned his weapon on them. And then on Saturday, two high-ranking U.S. military officers were killed inside their offices in the heavily fortified interior ministry. Their killer is still on the loose.
COL. JACK JACOBS [NBC NEWS MILITARY ANALYST]: There's no place, necessarily, inside Afghanistan that's safe for anybody. I don't think a great deal of progress has actually been made in places it really needs to be made.
ABAWI: The latest Quran burnings follows a long line of insults that has intensified the public outrage towards the U.S., including last year's intentional burning of a Koran by a pastor in Florida and the video of U.S. Marines urinating on the corpses of Taliban fighters. The U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan believes the anger will eventually settle and he told CNN the mission is still necessary.
RYAN CROCKER: This is not the time to decide that we're done here. We've got to redouble our efforts. We've got to create a situation in which al Qaeda is not coming back.
ABAWI: Last night the Pentagon said that a planned visit this week by Afghanistan's defense and interior ministers has been postponed as they try and end the violence. The anti-American and western sentiment here is at an all-time high within Afghanistan, and it has many foreigners here living on edge. Matt.
LAUER: Atia Abawi in Afghanistan for us this morning. Atia, thank you very much.