- Destroy ancient statues: Taliban leader
KABUL (Tuesday February 27, 2001): Taliban militia supreme leader Mulla
Mohammad Omar on Monday issued a decree ordering the destruction of all statues in
Afghanistan including ancient pre-Islamic figures.
"Based on the verdict of the clergymen and the decision of the
supreme court of the Islamic Emirate (Taliban) all the statues around Afghanistan must be
destroyed," said the decree.
The decree was issued as a team of western diplomats is visiting the
Afghan capital to check reports that senior Taliban officials destroyed over a dozen
pre-Islamic artefacts in the national museum.
Media reports have said zealous officials among the ruling Islamic
militia recently destroyed several ancient relics in Kabul Museum, including an exquisite
and priceless Buddha statue dating back some 2,000 years.
Taliban officials have categorically denied the reports but have
refused journalists' requests to visit the museum.
The team includes the ambassadors to neighbouring Pakistan from Greece
and Italy, the French charge d'affaires for Afghanistan, plus members of the
Islamabad-based Society for the Preservation of Afghanistan's Cultural Heritage.
The delegation called on Taliban Information and Culture Minister
Qudratullah Jamal on Monday morning, a team member said.
But the source said the envoys were denied immediate access to the
"We talked with the minister. He called these reports baseless
propaganda and said he would ask the higher authorities for permission (to visit the
museum)," the team member said.
Taliban supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar has issued several decrees
to protect non-Islamic artefacts, which have in the past been targeted by the militia's
However there is concern that some hardline officials still see the
relics as idols which are forbidden under Islamic law.
Kabul museum has been closed to the public since 1992 after most of its
unique collection was looted during factional fighting between Afghan warlords.
The Taliban, or movement of religious students, seized Kabul in 1996
and have imposed a very strict version of Sharia law.