EGYPT WILL send a high-level envoy to Afghanistan in a bid
to persuade the ruling Taliban militia to reverse their decision to destroy the country's
Buddhist statues, Foreign Minister Amr Moussa said on Friday.
Moussa did not name the envoy, but said he would depart in the coming
days. He said President Hosni Mubarak had received several appeals to intervene with
Taliban, whose leadership decided last week to destroy all ancient statues in Afghanistan
as idolatrous and un-Islamic.
On Wednesday, UNESCO director-general Koichiro Matsuura phoned Mubarak
and asked him to intercede on behalf of the statues, one of which is a giant Buddha carved
into a mountainside at Bamiyam, some 145 km west of Kabul.
Moussa said Taliban have to reconsider their decision, as the statues
are "a human heritage that has no effect on Islam in Afghanistan or elsewhere."
The foreign minister cited comments by Egypt's chief Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Nasr Farid
Wasel, who has condemned the destruction as wrong and not in accordance with the teachings
Other leading Muslim scholars have also condemned the move. Some
believe the decision is politically motivated by Taliban's resentment over its
international isolation. Egypt does not have diplomatic ties with Taliban, an
administration that is recognised by only three states as the government of Afghanistan -
Pakistan, UAE and Saudi Arabia. It controls 95 per cent of the country and imposes a
strict, conservative interpretation of Islam.