Egypt’s Islamic authority condemns Afghan abuse incident

Egypt's prestigious seat of Sunni learning, Al-Azhar, condemned on Friday an incident of what appears to be American forces urinating on dead Taliban fighters and described it as "a flagrant violation" of the sanctity of the fighters.

The video, posted on YouTube and other websites, shows four men in camouflage Marine combat uniforms urinating on three corpses. One of them jokes: "Have a nice day, buddy." Another makes a lewd joke.

"This is a flagrant violation of the sanctity of the Afghani martyrs, and it is shocking to the most basic principles of human civilisation," a senior adviser to grand imam of Al-Azhar told Reuters.

The images reinforced a sense in the Muslim world that U.S. military campaigns in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003, were — far from bringing peace and democracy — an opportunity to assert U.S. power over Muslim populations.

"This shows the emptiness and the absence of the values of the civilisation that those aggressors belong to," the Al-Azhar adviser said, quoting Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb, the grand imam.

Al-Azhar is Egypt's highest religious authority, training most of the country's imams and providing thousands of religious rulings (fatwas) daily.

The incident also prompted anger in Afghanistan where the president condemned the video, describing the men's actions as "inhuman" and calling for an investigation.

But the insurgent group Taliban said it would not harm nascent efforts to broker peace talks.

The United States has condemned the behaviour shown in the video and promised to investigate. The Marine Corps took a first, formal step on Friday toward possible charges against the four troops who appear in the video.

The Corps named a lead investigating officer whose job would include deciding what charges, if any, would be brought against the four men — all of whom have been identified, a Corps official told Reuters.

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