- We're breaking stones only: Taliban
KABUL (Wednesday February 28, 2001): The leader of the Taliban militia
in Afghanistan on Tuesday shrugged off international condemnation of his order to destroy
ancient Buddhist statues, saying "all we are breaking are stones."
Mulla Mohammad Omar said he had issued his order to destroy all statues
in Afghanistan in line with "Islamic" beliefs. "The breaking of statues is
an Islamic order and I have given this decision in the light of a fatwa of the ulema
(clerics) and the supreme court of Afghanistan. Islamic law is the only law acceptable to
me," he said from the fundamentalist militia's stronghold in southern Kandahar.
Afghanistan, a Buddhist centre before Islamic conquerors invaded around
1,400 years ago, is famous for its two massive and ancient Buddha statues in the central
province of Bamiyan, dating back to the second century.
In deeply Buddhist Thailand, Foreign Ministry spokesman Pradap
Pibulsonggram said the loss of the Bamiyan Buddhas would be a "loss to
The government of Sri Lanka, a majority Buddhist nation, expressed
"grave concern" about the order. "If true, this is a very serious matter
and we are gravely concerned," said government spokesman Ariya Rubasinghe.
In Tokyo, Hokkaido University's professor emeritus of Buddhism Kotatsu
Fujita said: "Even though the statues are in Afghanistan, they are really world
heritage sites now. I strongly doubt the Taliban's understandings of cultural
But Omar said Afghan history was secondary to the history of Islam.
"Whoever thinks this is harmful to the history of Afghanistan then I tell them they
must first see the history of Islam."
Other Afghans, however, expressed outrage at the Taliban order. Hamid
Karzai, a former deputy foreign minister in the ousted government of Burhanuddin Rabbani,
said the statues are no longer a part of religion, but are now a part of the country's