Buddha statues in Afghanistan are completely destroyed

The three-week-long campaign to destroy Buddha statues is complete, Taliban Information and Culture Minister Qudratuddin Jamal was quoted by RIA Novosti news agency as saying. All pre-Islamic "idols", including two giant Buddha statues in the Bamian province, have been destroyed completely, Jamal said. According to him, the same fate awaits any other anti-Islamic statues should such be discovered on Afghan territory. The minister reiterated that his "government rejects all requests and proposals" of world leaders and museums of international renown to allow moving the remainder of the smashed monuments outside Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Northern Alliance-controlled Payam-e Mojahed news agency disclosed the names of 13 Taliban senior officials belonging to the so-called "inner circle" of Mullah Omar, who reportedly had a role in making the decision to destroy the Buddha statues. The Taliban themselves had claimed "the decision was made by the Council of Religious Scholars comprising 400 theologians," while the government mouthpiece, Sharia Radio, had reported that "Mullah Omar's decree to destroy the statues was signed based on a ruling of the Supreme Court." The Northern Alliance spokesman, Younus Qanuni, disclosed that the decision had been made behind closed doors by 13 Taliban leaders, which included Defense Minister Mollah Obaidullah, Interior Minister Abdul Razzak, Bamian Governor Mohammad Islam, Information Minister Qudratuddin Jamal, and Chief of the Islamic Morality Police Wali Mohammad. Qanuni said the majority of Afghan theologians had opposed the measure and had even contacted the Unified Front on the issue, but Omar's closest advisors would not listen. All talk of a collective ruling of 400 theologians is a ploy to cover up the inner circle's decision imposed on the Afghan people, Qanuni said. Moreover, respectable Muslim scholars both in Afghanistan and abroad had opposed the destruction of historical monuments, since they said they were not aware of any holy Muslim books warranting the step according to the Sharia law, Younus Qanuni stressed.

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