KABUL - About 300 Afghans chanted anti-American and anti-British slogans in Kabul on Tuesday in the first such protest since U.S.-led forces toppled the fundamentalist Taliban in late 2001.
The protesters, who included government employees and university students complained of growing insecurity, slow post-war reconstruction and delay in payment of state salaries by Hamid Karzai's U.S.-backed government.
Some even called for the withdrawal of U.S.-led coalition forces from Afghanistan and said the time had come for Afghans to fight the ``American invasion,'' just as they had resisted the British and the Soviets in the 20th Century.
Saddiq Afghan, a prominent Afghan philosopher, addresses a crowd during an anti-American protest in Kabul May 6, 2003. Some 300 Afghans chanted anti-American slogans in Kabul on Tuesday in the first such protest since U.S. forces invaded Afghanistan to topple the fundamentalist Taliban in late 2001. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood
``We don't want the Brits and the Americans!'' shouted one of the protest leaders, a young and irate Kabul University student.
``We want Islam to rule. We want security. They have failed to bring it to us and we want them out!''
Another protester shouted: ``Death to (U.S. President George) Bush; Death to America!''
The protest was a rare event in Kabul, where past demonstrations have usually been organized by the government. The ranks of the protesters were swelled by some passers by.
The protest was organized by the ``Scientific Center'' headed by Sediq Afghan, a prominent Afghan philosopher known for outspoken criticisms of the communist regime of the 1980s, the Mujahideen governments that replaced it and also the Taliban.
He vowed to continue peaceful demonstrations until ``the demands of people of Kabul'' were met. He said these included better security, improvements in the economy and progress in post-war reconstruction.
``They are talking about reconstruction, but instead making themselves rich,'' he told the crowd.
One of the protesters complained about the presence of ``Jews and Christians'' among U.S.-led coalition forces.
``The time has come to beat the nail in the White House's coffin,'' he said. ``If we had dogs instead of these Jews and Christians, we would have security.''
Afghan said that about the only changes people had noticed since the Taliban fell were that some women had stopped wearing coverall burqa garments and the introduction of the Internet.
``Where is the security and reconstruction that they boasted about?'' he asked, pointing at pot holes in a downtown street.
While a 4,500 strong international peacekeeping force has maintained security in Kabul since the Taliban fell, the United Nations and independent aid agencies are among those who complain about a lack of security in the provinces.
President Hamid Karzai's government has struggled to assert its rule far outside Kabul and has itself repeatedly complained about slow disbursement of funds by donors for reconstruction.
Much of the country remains under the control of warlords and their militias while Taliban remnants and their allies have stepped up attacks in the southern areas bordering Pakistan.
Copyright 2003 Reuters Ltd.