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Muslim leaders condemn Taliban destruction

NEW DELHI (March 2, 2001): Leading Islamic clerics and leaders on Friday condemned the destruction of Afghanistan's ancient Buddha statues in central Bamiyan province by the ruling Taliban regime as "un-Islamic" and "an act of cultural genocide against humanity."

"It is an outrageous act. It should be treated as a crime against humanity. Bamiyan is part of the world's cultural heritage. The destruction of Buddha statues is an act of cultural genocide against humanity," Babri Masjid movement leader and former diplomat Syed Shahabuddin said.

Declining to draw a parallel between the Taliban action and the destruction of the disputed structure at Ayodhya on December 6, 1992, Shahabuddin said, "here it was some groups whereas in Afghanistan, the government itself is committing the crime."

"In the entire history of Islam, ancient and pre-historic sites have only been preserved and not destroyed whether it be in Iran, Egypt, Syria or India," Shahabuddin said.

The Shahi Imam of the historic Fatehpuri mosque here Maulana Mufti Mohammad Mukarram Ahmed termed the destruction of the statues as "un-Islamic."

"Islam has always respected other faiths. It has taught us not to abuse other faiths. The Taliban could have either veiled it or asked the Buddhist countries to relocate it if they were so averse to the statues," he said.

Christian leader Rev Valson Thampu said the Taliban action symbolised "selective use of religious prescription".


Updated: 3-3-2001

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