As anti-film protests are spreading around the Middle East and North Africa, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has postponed his trip to Norway fearing unrest in the country. At the same time, the Afghan government has ordered an indefinite ban on Youtube to prevent access to an obscure American made film mocking the Prophet Muhammad. Karzai has already condemned the anti-Islam film as “inhuman and insulting” that’s made by extremist Americans. But the question is why Afghans are not yet protesting against the film because in the past they used to be at the forefront of such events?
There could be many reasons for why there is not yet a anti-film protest in Afghanistan. But first, not many Afghans have access to the internet or Youtube either. This case is not that sensitive to the accidental burning of the Koran at the Bagram air base in northern Kabul for example. The burning of the Koran happened inside the country, Afghans have been very sensitive to cases like this that were and still are considered disrespectful to Islam.
Second, for the past years, any violent protest that took place was instigated by imams and clerics. In February, this year, some parts of the burned Koran was taken by Afghan forces working at Bagram and reported to mullahs in mosques. The burning pages of the Koran enraged imams called for mass protests and in a span of two days a series of violent protests hit several cities throughout the country. As a result 30 protestors were killed, more than 200 were wounded and two U.S. officers were shot in a heavily guarded Afghan government ministry.
So, where are these Imams now and why have Imams and clerics not yet instigated a mass protest?
In the aftermath of Koran burning protests, the Afghan government has decided to stop clerics and imams from inciting violence or preaching anti-government slogans in mosques. The government warned mullahs to stop inciting violence otherwise they may face dismissal and possibly jail. Since then, mullahs have closely been watched by the government and it is that reason that Afghanistan is still quiet. According to some Afghan local news, mullahs have been condemning the film in their daily sermons but have not been asking people to take the streets and protest.