KABUL: Afghan President Hamid Karzai has asked the country's religious elders to use their influence to sway insurgents not to use turbans to hide suicide bombs in a bid to halt the deadly new tactic before it becomes more widespread.
Two separate turban bombings last month killed the mayor of the southern city of Kandahar, the birthplace of the Taliban, and a senior cleric in the city, raising questions about how to guard against this new ploy without causing religious offence.
Suicide bombers in Afghanistan and Pakistan have also used women's burqas to disguise themselves.
Karzai recently met with members of ulema councils from around the country to discuss the issue, said Siyamak Herawi, a spokesman for Karzai.
"From our point of view, by misusing Islamic values (the insurgents) want to draw a bad picture of Islam for the people of the world," Herawi said.
He said Karzai asked the clerics to launch a campaign to convince insurgents not to use turbans and other religious attire to carry out suicide bombings, not to target mosques and to make them aware that suicide was un-Islamic.
Guards at some government ministries in Kabul are now asking men to remove their turbans for security checks.
Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban, said the group had never hidden a bomb in a turban.
The group did not claim responsibility for the July 14 killing of the senior Kandahar cleric and four others at a funeral service for the slain brother of president Karzai.
While it did claim the killing of Kandahar mayor Ghulam Haidar two weeks later, Mujahid said the bomb had not been hidden in a turban.
"If using a turban is an Islamic, respectful and cultural issue, then why did Karzai put it on the head of many foreign generals in the past years?" Mujahid shot back.
Religion is at the core of the group's ideology and they have in the past denied any role in attacks on religious sites, even when they appear to further their military strategy.
But targeting funerals and mosques is a tactic that has been used before in other parts of the country, and insurgent networks are the only groups fighting in Afghanistan that use suicide bombers.
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@Turban Guy: I'm glad I'm not the only one who read it that way.
Switching elsewhere... This goes to show many people jump the intolerance accusation gun when it comes to how people react to Muslims at times. If it's a choice between offending someone who gets offended at everything anyways and getting blown up, people will choose the first option. Far from intolerance.
Didn't you hear that 'Everything is fair in love and war' ... The morally corrupts justify their illicit relations in the name of love, Let Taliban kill in the name of war .... Totally justified
Asking the religious leaders of the "religion of peace" to do something to promote peace --- now there is a novel idea. I wonder why no one has thought of that in Pakistan?
Karzai:Keep on doing bombings, but please don't use turbans. Hahahah
Asking some to remove his turban has always been a religious and cultural offence in Afghanistan and FATA of Pakistan. Yet, security personnel will be obliged to force the people remove their turbans during snap checking, if the terrorists continued to manipulate the custom. The terrorists have also used mosques as their weapons depot and meeting hideouts in past which indicates that they have no respect for our religion and culture.
Turban bomb? What an idea! Research and development is at a feverish pitch in the region ! What'll they think of next?