American Muslims Condemn Taliban Destruction of Buddhist Statues as Un-Islamic

 (Washington D.C., March 9)— According to reports today, the ruling Taliban government of Afghanistan has dynamited and completely destroyed the two ancient Bamiyan Buddha statues in central Afghanistan, despite worldwide pleas to save them.

 The American Muslim Council is deeply disturbed by the Taliban’s recent destruction of the two ancient Buddhist statues despite offers from foreign museums to buy them and a proposal to build a giant wall to hide them.

American Muslim leaders nationwide have condemned the acts of the Taliban as reprehensible, stating that their actions betray Islam’s inherent respect for other religions and specific commands in the Qu’ran that emphasize tolerance for all religions.

Dr. Ali Mazrui, Director Institute of Global Cultural Studies at Binghamton University:  “ Those who would like their own sacred symbols respected owe a similar level of respect to the sacred symbols of others.  The Muslim world is therefore offended not just when an ancient mosque is demolished in Ayodiah, India, not just when the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem is threatened.

The Muslim world is also offended when fellow Muslims desecrate Buddhist monuments in Afghanistan.  The Abrahamic religions share the Golden Rule – ‘Do unto others what you would have done to you.’  The Taliban insult Islam when they abuse Buddhism.”

Professor Sulayman Nyang, Howard University:  “Neither a Muslim nor a non-Muslim has any right to deface, deform or violate the shrines of other faith communities. Such acts of vandalism are not condoned by Muslims and thus, it is dangerous and unwise for any non-Muslim to construe such an act as Islamic. The acts of the Taliban government fall into the category of actions that are reprehensible and unacceptable.”

Professor Aziza Al-Hibri, T.C. Williams school of Law, University of Richmond: “For centuries, Islam has preserved and even maintained all prior cultural expressions, including the Egyptian Sphinx, the Persian Persepolis, ancient houses of worship belonging to other religions, and the pictures, images, artifacts and possessions they housed.  In fact, had it not been for Islamic protection, these structures and artifacts may not have survived.

Khalifah Umar provides an excellent example.  Upon entering Jerusalem, he prohibited the destruction of any Christian images or places of worship.”

“The Taliban have done Islam a great injustice and should refrain from any additional destruction and misguided disrespect for other religions,” said Dr. Yahya Basha, AMC President. “It is imperative that they adhere to Islam’s order to recognize religious pluralism and the freedom to practice according to those beliefs.”

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