Muslim and non-Muslim groups alike heard former Guantanamo Bay detainee Martin Mubanga on Friday talk about frequent instances of disrespect for Islam's holy book during his time at the US prison camp.

"The soldiers thought I was a dangerous man, a martial artist, so they liked to fight me," the former prisoner said. Released in January, Mubanga was held in Camp Delta's Charlie Block for more than two years

"This was one of the methods they used, throwing the Quran, my Quran, on the floor in my cell. This was in the first month at Camp Delta, but it is not something that stopped, rather continued and increased," Mubanga said.

Mubanga said prisoners had asked for notices to be posted warning US soldiers that copies of the Quran should not be thrown on the floor.

"We were not asking to have a gymnasium, we weren't asking to have swimming pools, only that they did not touch the Quran," he said.

Mubanga added: "It's a shame we have had to wait for a magazine to publish and then retract a story concerning the treatment of the Quran."

More demonstrations

No member of the US embassy came out of the building to address the demonstration.

Muslims pray during a protest
outside the US embassy

Meanwhile, thousands of Somalis also gathered in downtown Mogadishu and denounced the alleged desecration.

The demonstrators chanted anti-American slogans and Islamic prayers in what many described as the largest gathering in the ravaged capital since the central government collapsed in 1991.

And in the occupied West Bank, about 2500 Palestinians streamed out of mosques in Nablus on Friday, also in protest over allegations of Quran desecration.

Abuse report

In a related development, a UK Islamic human rights group has published statements from former Guantanamo Bay detainees about conditions at the concentration camp.

Feroz Abbassi, Moazzam Begg and Jamal al-Harith are among the eight ex-prisoners of war who have given their accounts of Quran abuse.

In the report, Abbassi states that a US interpreter of Lebanese Maronite Christian origin repeatedly slapped and physically degraded the Quran.

He said that copies of the Quran were placed in buckets of faeces and urine by US forces and that the interrogators used the book as a tool to humiliate and abuse detainees.

Begg corroborates Feroz's account and said there were inaccuracies in US spokesman Richard Boucher's statement that the detainees were given the Quran and the opportunity to worship.

Al-Harith adds that the reason for the first hunger strike in Camp X-Ray (which was later renamed Camp Delta), which involved about 75% of the detainees, was due to a guard who kicked the Quran on to the floor and another who kicked a copy into a toilet.