France Calls on Taliban not to Destroy Buddha Statues
France on Wednesday added its voice to international appeals for Afghanistan's ruling Taliban militia to reconsider its decision to destroy two ancient Buddhas and other non-Islamic religious shrines.
"The announcement by Mullah Mohamed Omar, supreme leader of the Taliban, that all pre-Islamic statues would be destroyed is appalling," foreign ministry spokesman Bernard Valero said.
"Carrying through this decision would threaten the artistic pre-Islamic heritage of Afghanistan, of which some pieces, notably the Buddhas of Bamiyan, are part of the world heritage."
The two Buddhas carved into a sandstone mountain in central Bamiyan province are the most famous of the country's statues.
Almost 2,000 years old, the largest of the two is the tallest standing Buddha in the world at 50 meters (165 feet). The Taliban have said the statues are still being worshipped in breach of Islamic law.
Apart from France, several other countries and organizations, including Iran, the United States, Japan, Thailand and UNESCO, have urged the Taliban to reconsider the religious edict to destroy the statues and other non-Islamic shrines.
But the Afghan leadership said Wednesday the decision was irreversible – PARIS (AFP)
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