The US military, in an attempt to win over the Afghanistan populous, decided to give soccer balls to local school children. The balls were inscribed with the name of Allah; a major no-no in the Muslim religion. They really dropped the ball on this one.
The balls were dropped, via helicopter, over the Khost province of eastern Afghanistan on Friday. They contained a small picture of the Saudi Arabian Flag which has the names of Allah and the prophet Muhammad written on it in Arabic script; something most Muslims are not too happy about kicking around.
The balls were meant to make the villagers like the American presence, a goal which quickly backfired.
The local population reacted strongly, taking offense to the notion that anyone could find it appropriate to kick a ball with Allah’s name inscribed on it.
Villagers were “upset and angry” when they saw the ball, said Khost governor Arsalah Jamal
“They wanted to demonstrate, but we explained to them it was a mistake,” he said.
The balls were purchased in a Kabul market and were made in — you guessed it — China. They featured the flags of many countries, one of which was that of Saudi Arabia.
Muslims often display what can be seen as extreme reactions to religious insensitivity. An example of this can be seem in the bloody protests over a cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad.
Some locals had this to say:
“This ball … carries a message with it which, like an atom bomb, can cause carnage and insecurity in all parts of Afghanistan,” a leading Afghan private daily, Cheragh, said on Monday.
Fawad Ahmad, a shopkeeper in Kabul, said: “Americans themselves create insecurity by ignoring religious sensitivity, it is against Islam.
The attempt at pleasing the locals has seemingly backfired and caused even more tensions between the US soldiers and the Afghan population.