Afghan regime plays to Muslims

The month-old Marxist government in AFghanistan has launched a propaganda offensive to blunt the effect of an upsurge of Islamic fervor. Revolutionary slogans are being erased after last Thursday's ruling by the Afghan Politburo that leftist signs on streets and squares should be collected and destroyed because they were "not in conformity with the present stage of national and democratic revolution."

The order was followed by a radio and television broadcast by President Babrak Karmal a day later pledging "freedom for all religions, sects, national customs, and traditions." The Afghan leader threatened to prosecute anyone attempting to "oppose the sacred religion of Islam" and promised Muslim clergymen "appropriate conditions for performing religious rites." President Karmal's address, uncharacteristic of a Marxist, began: "In the name of God, the compassionate, and the merciful . . . ."

As part of the government strategy to soften Muslim resentment of the Marxist leadership, radio and television here broadcast verses from the Koran, the Muslim holy book. The red national flag is also being changed to include green, a color associated with Islam.

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