Melbourne, Australia - 7th March, 2001 - The Islamic Information & Services Network of Australasia (IISNA), an Australian Muslim organization, has voiced its support for the decision of the Taliban to destroy the idols of Bamiyan.
"We stand with the Taliban in their decision to rid their land of these polytheistic symbols", said Abu Umar, IISNA spokesman.
Idolatry is explicitly forbidden in Islam and is opposed to the most fundamental religious tenet which is pure monotheism - worship of God alone. The eradication of all forms of idolatry and polytheism is considered the primary mission of Islam and of all the Prophets of God.
"When the Prophet Muhammad conquered Mecca, amongst the first things he did was order the destruction of the idols of the pagan Arabs. Similarly, in the Christian and Jewish scriptures, we find this same prohibition - in the first of the Ten Commandments and also in Leviticus in the Old Testament", he said. "It is common to all Prophets that they have opposed the worship of anything other than God alone. "
"The Taliban are a grassroots movement that formed in response to the mayhem, crime and violence that was nurtured by the corrupt Rabbani regime. They have the support of over 95% of the Afghan people. If they want to destroy the idols of their ancestors, then it is their right to do so and they have the mandate of their people. They have sovereignty over their land and what is in it, and they have as much right to choose what they want to maintain of their past as they do to decide what they want for their future."
In responding to claims that the act of destroying these idols is against freedom of religion, Abu Umar said, "This is not an issue of violating freedom of religion. We have seen no evidence to suggest that these particular idols are currently worshiped, or feature in the religious practices of any Buddhist community anywhere in the world. They are simply remnants of a people's polytheistic past. These people are now Muslim, and wish to erase those historical remnants which are contrary to their religious beliefs."
It is ironic that the UN is showing so much concern for the relics of the past, whereas it has actively sought to deny Afghanistan a meaningful future through its 1999 & 2000 UN Security Council sanctions. These sanctions seek to punish the Afghan nation because someone in their midst (Bin Laden) is accused of terrorism. A whole nation is crippled academically, economically and technologically because of one man. Its people are enduring tremendous hardships. Yet, it is only the destruction of old stones that moves the world to such an emotional outpouring?
Describing the world's outrage as "hypocritical", Abu Umar responded, "The world weeps for these stones, yet not one tear was shed when Babri mosque was destroyed in India, or when the countless mosques were destroyed in Bosnia. Where were these voices when the Rabbani regime was looting Kabul and indiscriminately killing Afghan civilians? Where are the tears for the Iraqi babies dying each month from UN imposed sanctions? We've seen the distress over the Afghan statues, but where is the distress for the starving Afghan children?"
The message that the world is sending is that these statues are more valuable than human life. Destroying these statues will erase a tiny part of the Afghan past, but by continuing to impose sanctions and continuing to lend support and recognition to the ousted Rabbani regime, the world is working to deny the Afghan future. This is, without doubt, the greatest crime.