When Fanaticism Meets Art
brutal ruling Taliban fundamentalists have never seemed to
care much what the rest of the world thinks of them. They
ignored protests of their treatment of women and children,
and now, in a move almost calculated to provoke outrage, they
are going about destroying Afghanistan's greatest art treasures.
have set about destroying [AP]
what was once "Afghanistan's most famous tourist attraction
- two enormous statues of Buddha, 38 and 55 metres high, carved
into a cliff-face." The giant statues - located about
seven hours' drive from Kabul - were built about 1000 years
before the arrival of Islam in Afghanistan.
expert says of their destruction that it is the equivalent
of India deciding to tear down the Taj Mahal.
looked for a time last week that the destruction might be
staved off after a visiting delegation was
told the destruction would not take place [The
Buddhas are not the only targets of the Taliban - the Afghani
information minister said over the weekend that some "two-thirds"
of the country's ancient statues [Washington
Post] had been destroyed. Offers
by the international art community [London
Times], including the Metropolitan Museum, to buy the
art and move it were ignored.
destroy the art now, the nation's - indeed part of the world's
- cultural heritage? The official reason is that worshippers
might be tempted [Globe & Mail]
to pay homage to the idols."
Afghanistan doesn't really have any Buddhists.
country a pariah state, and only three countries even acknowledge
the country's government, which took power by force in 1996.
Taliban have imposed repressive laws - "women must cover
themselves from head to toe, photography is forbidden, beardless
men risk imprisonment and thieves have been stoned to death."
Further, the country has been suffering through a massive
of the country's art was already
destroyed in the civil war [The Art
Newspaper] leading to the Taliban's taking power. Art
in the National Museum of Afghanistan - closed for ten years
during the war - was massively looted but the government reopened
the National Museum [BBC]