Gift of footballs from United States offends Afghans inadvertently

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Monday, August 27, 2007

The flag of Saudi Arabia contains the shahdah, one of the Five Pillars of Islam.

The American military has been accused of offending people in Afghanistan when it distributed footballs, which had been printed with images of flags from around the world. One of the flags of Saudi Arabia which contains the shahadah, one of the five Pillars of Islam. Critics say that this is offensive. As a result, a protest in the Khost province of south east Afghanistan took place, where 100 people attended.

One Afghan MP, Mirwais Yasini said, "To have a verse of the Koran on something you kick with your foot would be an insult in any Muslim country."

The U.S. forces in Afghanistan indicated the balls were meant to be a gift to Afghan children. A spokeswoman said, "Unfortunately, there was something on those footballs we didn't immediately understand to be offensive and we regret that as we do not want to offend."

This is not the first time the flag has been used on a football. In 2002, there were protests when a planned football was to contain the Saudi Arabia flag for the 2002 Football World Cup.

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