Troops brace for violent backlash against 'The Innocent Prophet'
AUSTRALIAN troops are bracing for violent protests in Afghanistan over the likely release this month of a new film mocking Islam.
Riots were sparked across the Islamic world in September after a 14-minute trailer for the "Innocence of Muslims" video was released on YouTube. Troops are now on heightened alert to the risk of another round of protests because a derivative film called "The Innocent Prophet" is slated to be released on Friday.
The new footage created by an ex- Muslim originally from Pakistan has already inflamed tensions in his former home country ahead of its release.
Coalition forces are prepared for extreme reactions to the provocative video that could hamper their efforts in neighbouring Afghanistan, which is already a tinder box of religious sensitivities.
Defence forces are warned to be wary of inadvertently offending locals as part of their preparations for deployment to the main Australian base in Uruzgan province or other centres of Kabul and Kandahar.
Cultural sensitivity training is a standard element of soldiers' pre-deployment training in Australia.
But the key points are drilled into all military and civilian personnel going to work in Afghanistan in another intensive four day program at the Al Minhad Air Base outside Dubai.
The training includes appropriate ways to handle and store the Koran, which is generally wrapped in a cloth and only opened after the reader has ritually cleansed themselves.
This preparation has taken on extra urgency in the aftermath of an increase in insider attacks against Coalition forces.
Retribution for perceived slights on Islam are thought to be one possible trigger for these turncoat attacks, which claimed three out of the seven Diggers' lives lost in Afghanistan this year.
Coalition forces are wary of violent reactions from Afghans who are upset by breaches of religious protocol.
Days of rioting ensued after Coalition soldiers burned copies of the Koran when they were disposing of old books at the Bagram Air Base near Kabul last February.
US President Barack Obama and the chief of NATO forces in Afghanistan, General John Allen, both issued televised apologies in a bid to quell the outcry, which insurgents have used as justification for attacks.
Posted by: tipper 2012-12-10