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Comments by the Taliban "Destructive Frenzy in Afghanistan"
March 2, 2001

Afghanistan's supreme leader Mullah Mohammed Omar: "In view of the fatwa [religious edict] of prominent Afghan scholars and the verdict of the Afghan Supreme Court it has been decided to break down all statues/idols present in different parts of the country. This is because these idols have been gods of the infidels, who worshiped them, and these are respected even now and perhaps maybe turned into gods again. The real God is only Allah, and all other false gods should be removed."

"Whoever thinks this is harmful to the history of Afghanistan then I tell them they must first see the history if Islam. Some people believe in these statues and pray to them.... If people say these are not our beliefs but only part of the history of Afghanistan, then all we are breaking are stones."

"The breaking of statues is an Islamic order and I have given this decision in the light of a fatwa of the ulema and the supreme court of Afghanistan."

"According to Islam, I don't worry about anything. My job is the implementation of Islamic order."

"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. "My job is the implementation of Islamic order. Only Allah, the Almighty, deserves to be worshiped, not anyone or anything else."

"As Islamic sharia [law] orders the destruction of statues and considers the drawing of portraits a mockery to the servants of Allah, the destruction of any site decorated with pictures is necessary."

Taliban Information and Culture Minister Mullah Qadradullah Jamal: "The work began early during the day. All of the statues are to be smashed. This also covers the idols in Bamiyan." "The implementation of Mullah Omar's order to destroy statues began this morning [March 1]. The destruction work began in Kabul, Jalalabad, Herat, Kandahar, Ghazni, and Bamiyan. The destruction work will be done by any means available to them. All the statues all over the country will be destroyed."

Taliban Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil: "The abandoned relics are not our pride. Destroying them would not mean that the freedom of the minorities would cease."

Taliban Ambassador to Pakistan Mullah Abdul Salam Zaeef: "There is a decision of religious scholars on this matter, this will be implemented--for sure." "We don't care why they weren't destroyed in the past, but we have a government now in Afghanistan that is religious and we want to stop all things that are against Islam." "It is not a valid precedent that we should follow just because they were not destroyed in the past. Maybe in the past they tolerated it...now there is a government established the by religious scholars." "Even if the pieces of the destroyed statues made of gems, stones and metal can be made of value to its owner, these remaining parts should also be smashed."

The Taliban: "As Islamic sharia [law] orders the destruction of statues and considers the drawing of portraits a mockery to the servants of Allah, the destruction of any site decorated with pictures is necessary." Anonymous Taliban militia source(s): "They have started attacking the Buddhas with guns and tank shells--with whatever arms they are carrying." "Explosives, such as gunpowder, have also been placed beneath the statues for more effective action."

Introduction

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© 2001 by the Archaeological Institute of America
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