Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich has blamed Afghans for the burning of the Holy Qur'an by US troops, saying prisoners in the US base were using its pages to transmit messages from jails.
Speaking to an audience of supporters in Meridian, Mississippi, on Friday, Gingrich claimed that Afghan prisoners were “using the Qu'ran for communication from jail, and it's a pity that the religious leaders in Afghanistan aren't condemning the people who were defacing the Qu'ran. Because it is those people who are responsible for the Qu'ran ending up being burned, because if they hadn't defaced it, it wouldn't have been confiscated.”
Gingrich added that he was offended when US President Barack Obama apologized to Afghans over the sacrilegious act.
Gingrich went on to say that he would stand up for American troops in similar situations if he becomes president.
Last week, Gingrich told CNN's State of the Union
program that "I don't believe the president saved lives by what he did."
"I believe the president set a terrible precedent of a commander in chief not standing up for American troops," he added.
The desecration of Islam's holy book at the US military’s Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan sparked days of violenct protests in Afghanistan where dozens of people, including several US forces, were killed.
The desecration of the Holy Qur’an underscores the insensitivity of the US-led forces about the cultural and religious values and rituals of Afghanistan, more than 10 years after they invaded the Asian nation to remove the Taliban from power.
Insecurity continues to rise across Afghanistan despite the presence of some 130,000 US-led forces in the war-torn country.