- (Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has come out to support President Barack Obama for apologizing for a Quran burning incident that has sparked several days of deadly protests in Afghanistan.
The Obama Administration apologized for the incident last Thursday and has faced criticism from Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Sarah Palin, and others for apologizing.
Santorum called the apology "unacceptable" telling ABC's, "This Week" that the incident "was clearly a mistake, which we should not have apologized for."
Gingrich argued that Obama is "constantly apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the United States."
However, Obama was supported by his secretary of state over the weekend when Clinton told CNN that she finds the criticism from political leaders troubling and believes it could worsen the scope of the conflict.
"I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would enflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan," the secretary of state told the news network. "It was the right thing to do, to have our President on record saying, 'you know this is not intentional, we deeply regret it.'"
"Now we are hoping that voices inside Afghanistan will join that of President Karzai and others in speaking out to try to calm the situation. It's deeply regrettable but now it's out of hand and it needs to stop," Clinton added.
On Sunday, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest echoed similar sentiments.
"It was the President's view that an apology was appropriate because he's putting the best interest and safety and welfare of our service members and our civilians who are currently serving in Afghanistan right now," Earnest told reporters.
"The President believed it was in the best interest of their safety to make it clear that an apology was appropriate, and that the American people and the American military in particular does have respect for the religious views and religious practices of the Afghan people," he added.
Protests broke out across Afghanistan last Tuesday after workers at the coalition-run Bagram Air Base north of Kabul reported copies of the Quran among a pile of garbage at the base.
Dozens of people have been injured and over 30 people have been killed in the violence, including civilian demonstrators and U.S. soldiers.
Despite public apologies from top U.S. and NATO officials, and a public plea by Afghan President Karzai to halt the violence, a suicide bomber killed at least nine people in car bomb attack at the Jalalabad military airport in eastern Afghanistan on Monday.
The Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, telling The Associated Press that the car bombs were "revenge" against those who burnt the Quran.
Over the weekend, the highest profile attack occurred when two American officers were shot to death inside Afghanistan's heavily guarded Interior Ministry building in Kabul. It was unclear who shot the service members and an investigation into the incident was ongoing.