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Monday, 12 March, 2001, 10:17 GMT
The Taleban: Can they be swayed?

The Taleban regime in Afghanistan is provoking international outrage with its threat to destroy some of the world's greatest Buddhist monuments, which they say are insulting to Islam.

And this at a time when Afghanistan - bedevilled by drought, food shortages and a massive refugee problem - needs all the outside help it can get.

Controversy is nothing new to the Taleban. They first gained worldwide attention with their vision of a pure Islamic state - women banned from work, no school for girls, public executions and amputations.

The United States has led the imposition of UN sanctions, accusing the Taleban of harbouring terrorists. But nothing that Washington or its allies does seems to bother the isolationist regime in Kabul.

Should western powers continue to put pressure on the Taleban, or does outside interference in Afghanistan cause more problems than it solves?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reaction

What country hasn't destroyed another's culture at some stage?

Sion Williams, UK
I'm a Buddhist. It's a real shame that any ancient art, Buddhist or otherwise is ever destroyed by anybody. The consequences of any action based on greed, hatred or delusion will inevitably be bad. It doesn't look good for the Taliban. But I think that the suffering of humanity is far more important than any art. So we should respond with kindness to the Taliban, try not to be too judgmental as we too have our own faults. What country hasn't destroyed another's culture at some stage?
Sion Williams, UK

The Taliban fanatics are fools if they think that they can destroy an idea by removing its symbolic manifestations. They accomplish nothing except to offend people of civility and goodwill throughout the world and to erase their own cultural past. Whatever else they may do, history has already condemned them for this action.
Van, USA

There is no excuse to support the destruction of any fine historic culture. Islam directs one to respect another's faith. Probably, some fanatics are misinterpreting these directions and using them inappropriately and politically destroying those valuable statues.
Shameem, USA

What right has the world to lament over a few recently made statues when the million years old earth is being deformed? There is not a single line of protest when they totally erase huge mountains and other creations of God from the face of earth.
Zainab, India

I am an Afghan and though this may be my country, I think what the Taliban are doing is totally wrong. Islam is our religion but it may not be that of others. Each individual has a right to choose for themselves what religion they want to follow, no one has the right to tell them what they can or can't do.
Shafiqa, California

What are all the countries condemning them going to do?

Mohammad Ahsan, Canada
The Taleban have the right to do whatever they want in the light of Islam. What are all the countries condemning them going to do? Attack the already ruined country? If they do, then be prepared for the consequences.
Mohammad Ahsan, Canada

The mindless destruction of the Buddhist statues at Bamiyan is arguably one of the most heinous crimes against world heritage of the last 50 years. How can anyone justify the Taliban's actions when it smacks of a total disregard to other religions? Nothing in the Koran says that all other religions should be obliterated and if anything preaches tolerance.
Hugh Watkinson, UK

Of course it is wrong for the Taliban to destroy precious relics of the past - but no worse than the extremist Hindus who destroyed a mosque in India, or the Jews who destroy Muslim land. I hardly hear about these. At the end of the day, these are some rocks which until recently were little known throughout the world. What people need to be more concerned about is the unnecessary death of numerous people throughout the world because of war, unrest or starvation. It isn't rocks but the lives and well being of our children around the world that matter. Let's get our priorities straight.
Hasina, UK

All that the Taleban have succeeded in doing is to reinforce their image of being intolerant and barbaric.
Arun, San Francisco, USA

I am extremely shocked that the countries of the world, which never paid any attention to the sufferings of living breathing Afghans dying of hunger and cold, are making so much fuss about these statues. This is outrageous. These countries should be ashamed.
Saeed, Pakistan

The Taleban is a band of religious fanatics who are a disappointment to their people and have brought nothing but misery despair and destitution to the Afghan people. The UN and other countries should do whatever is necessary to protect these statutes. The destruction of these statutes is not only an affront to all Buddhists but to all peace-loving people. The silence of Muslim countries in this regard tells a lot to the world. The main supporter of the Taleban is Pakistan and Pakistan should be punished with sanctions and an economic blockade until they stop supporting the Taleban. Without this support the Taleban will be out of power in no time.
Vijay, India

It is a waste of time telling people to care about pieces of stone when they don't have bread or peace

Robert Bracey, UK
The International outrage on this issue is a good thing but it will have no effect because it doesn't tackle the route of the problem. Until Pakistan, Russia, India and Iran sit down with the whole of the international community to solve Afghanistan's problems this will persist. It is a waste of time telling people to care about pieces of stone when they don't have bread or peace.
Robert Bracey, UK

Centuries old relics of Buddha (older than the Islamic Faith itself) are being destroyed in the pure Islamic land of Afghanistan. Where is the outrage from the Islamic nations? Only lip service. Had it been a small mosque, in a tiny hamlet the outrage would be heard world wide.
Dipta K. B, USA

By destroying statues (physical representations) can they destroy the vision of Buddha?. No, never. Buddhism doesn't depend on statues. Be calm world Buddhists. Eternal truth never dies.
U, Sri Lanka

The Taleban have done absolutely the right thing and no one has the right to criticise them.
Mohammad A, Canada

Many people have given justification to the destruction saying that if Hindus, Christians or Jews can destroy monuments of historical or religious importance then why can't the Taleban do that as well? I fail to understand how can two wrongs make a right? Why this childish justification. Someday when Afghanistan opens up for outside world and tourists start coming in Buddha will be missed by all. Buddha could have brought much needed money through tourists.

I fail to understand the perverted logic by which the news media is silent about the murder of 700,000 Iraqi children by the "civilised" West but is appalled at the breaking of stones by Taleban? The sad part is that many Muslims are also duped by the western propaganda against the Taleban. What the Taleban are doing is much more benign and harmless than what the Western countries are doing to the rest of humanity, particularly Muslims.
Samina Shafi, USA

The loss of these historic monuments is sad but better the guns turned on them than the Taliban's opponents

David Coe, Netherlands (expat)
Can anything be done? Of course not! You cannot use reason, diplomacy or threats against such a savage regime. Look at the British method in the 19th century...problems with the natives? Send a gunboat! Sadly the UN is too hamstrung to find a gunboat to send, the loss of these historic monuments is sad but better the guns turned on them than the Taliban's opponents.
David Coe, Netherlands (expat)

Man is mortal. History immortal. The life of the young kid who is poor and hungry is surely important, but does that mean that instead of giving him food and clothes we destroy our history? The Taliban militia will regret its short sightedness and selfishness. They should be made to regret their self-motivated misinterpretation of Islam. What I want to know is what do they benefit from destroying statues from the 4th century ?
Asgar Ali, US

This latest action by the Taliban smacks of nothing but oppression and sooner or later their own people will arise against them.
Hazel, UK

Although I would not like to see these statues destroyed, I agree with Amir, UK (see above) to a certain extent. There has been a significant international outcry over this situation yet people aren't too bothered about ancient beliefs and monuments when it prevents them doing something they want. Many, many people climb Mount Kilimanjaro and Ayres Rock every year despite the fact that the local tribes have never done so because it offends their belief that these are the dwelling places of their gods. This comparison again highlights the hypocritical mentality of ignorant western cultures who do as we want, when we want and when somebody stands up to us we react like a spoilt child.
Ciaran Carey, Glasgow, Scotland

The UN should send a fleet of bombers to target all the Islam monuments and mosques in Afghanistan to teach the Taliban a lesson for discriminating against other religions.
Nish, India

I think the Taleban are pathetic fools who have done nothing good to their country...Muslims have always been extremist and this sort of behaviour is not very surprising...
Suren Jayaweera, New Zealand

The act of Taliban is going back to Dark Age. Somebody like George Bush (Jr) should take immediate action to gather a war force to protect the monument and in turn the humanity.
Rohini Raman, India

It's quite interesting that the Western world gets itself all worked up when Muslims destroy idols in Afghanistan. But, when the Muslim Waqf (religious council)of Jerusalem continues to dig up and destroy large areas of the Jewish Temple Mount not a peep is heard from the "enlightened" West.
Noor Bin Walid, Israel

It's no worse than what the Palestinians did recently to Joesph's Tomb in Nablus

Barry, Edinburgh, UK
Of course it's an act of cultural vandalism, but it's no worse than what the Palestinians did recently to Joesph's Tomb in Nablus - and that didn't receive half the coverage this is receiving. Perhaps because it's not fashionable at the moment to side with the Israelis?
Barry, Edinburgh, UK

I'm a Buddist, and I think it's really unfair to destroy something that have a historic meaning to so many people in the world. It's like destroying the Statue of Liberty here in U.S.

Firstly, some need to be reminded that there is no such thing as "modern society" in today's Afghanistan. Secondly, there is no need to be hysterical about this. While the statues represented great value culturally and religiously, it should be noted that all over the world people are being slaughtered daily, and it is our living brethren of all descriptions we should be mostly concerned for.
Dan, Australia

What goes around comes around. Taleban and it's supporters should be aware of it. The Deaths in Mecca stampade might be just a start of a pay back for the Taleban barbaric act against Buddhism. Buddhism is a religion of Tolerance and love, you can do whatever you like, but you can never destroy something wonderful as that.
Sameera, Sri Lanka

It is a shame for Islam and the Islamic world. Mr. Amir's comment on this is ridiculous and Talibanic, I don't know why he brings Chechnya, Kashmir and Palestine into picture. The Muslims fighting here are also barbarians, in Palestine Jewish shrines were razed and mosques built over it, in India(Kashmir) countless temples, gurudwaras and monasteries were destroyed by scoundrel invaders. The people who call others infidels have shown that they are true infidels by having so much intolerance towards the world.
Naveen, India

It is very easy to take out aggression on static mute peaceful idols

Ashgang, USA
It is very easy to take out aggression on static mute peaceful idols. Not only I, but the world will applaud if you can eradicate the hunger and poverty and uncertainty troubling the Afghans. Why can't everyone understand that this was just an old trick to divert attention. Religion is always the best option when you can't feed the masses after claiming to the leader. Taliban, save your ammunition to trade in for food.
Ashgang, USA

Provide military aid to the Northern Alliances, launch a massive attack on Talibans military headquarters, punish Pakistan for its direct support to Taliban, bring the leaders of Taliban to Justice. We cannot allow insanity to go on, what they do is absolutely un-Islamic.
Farhad, United States of America

I have not figured out what does Taleban gain politically, militarily and economically by destroying the statues of Buddha. There has been no support for these actions from the rest of the world including Islamic countries. Only some fringe elements, as seen in some of your letters seem to support this action. Is it just another reaction by Taleban to sanctions imposed by the world community. I feel sorry for the people of Afghanistan, especially women and children, ruled by these thugs under the cloak of Islam. The question is how to get rid of these barbarians without harming the civilian population.
RS, Canada

I think the real purpose of this behaviour is to isolate Afghanistan, by doing something outrageously offensive but largely superficial, for the benefit of the outside world. Call it a publicity stunt, if you will. Then the Taleban can consolidate their internal power further, as in the Iraqi model, where punishing the citizenry with sanctions only drove them closer to their ruler... the only difference being that the Taleban are deliberately engaging this mechanism themselves, rather than it being hammered in place from without.
Ashtoreth, Midwest Dominion

I cannot believe the hyprocrisy of the Western world over a few statues. This act of desecration has been going on for centuries and may I remind you that it was mostly carried out in the name of Christianity. In the 19th Century, the Summer palace in Beijing, one of the most beautiful architectures in the world was destroyed in a whim by Lord Elgin as revenge for attacks on Christian Missionaries. We also recently see the most wholescale destruction of churches, gothic buildings, bridges when the allies indiscriminately bombed Kosovo. At least the Taleban are doing it in their own backyard.
Paul, Hong Kong

If you want to destroy something in Afghanistan, please first build something. You have not built any hospitals, any schools

Shahpesandy H.M., Slovakia

I am very disappointed by Talebanīs decision to destroy Budhas. I am a Muslim, but I cannot neglect my history, history of my nation. I am proud of the history of Afghanistan. Taleban: If you want to destroy something in Afghanistan, please first build something. You have not built any hospitals, any schools and any streets, please, please why you want to destroy something which belongs to all Afghans and the World.
Shahpesandy H.M., Slovakia

The destruction of these idols shows nothing more than the hypocrisy of the Taleban. They maintain that they do this in the name of religion yet ignore most of the Islamic world's cries that this is a mis-interpretation of the Koran. The Taleban have issued a not so carefully camouflaged statement "We tell the United Nations to go and ask (ousted president Burhanuddin Rabbani) for the statues' preservation, because they recognize him" This implies that religious idealism is not the main goal here, and that by doing this they are taking the name is Islam in vain and lose any credibility they may have had in their religions standing.
Mike UK (Australian)

This is a clear signal from the fanatics. The intolerance to other religions today led to destructions of statues, tomorrow it will be destruction of non-muslim lives. That has happened in history. Won't take much to be repeated. Entire Indian Hindu and Buddhist heritage was erased by the muslim invaders in the name of Islam. Won't be long until they turn to our cathedrals and churches to destroy them.
Andrew Scott, Canada

"Do not be distressed Ananda. Impermanent are all compounded things." The above were the Buddha's last words - we should have compassion for the people of Afghanistan.
D A Haigh, UK

Let no-one lower themselves to believe that this is a religious act

This is fully in line with what we should expect from a country run by a bunch of fanatic thugs (let no-one lower themselves to believe that this is a religious act). Time has stood still in Afghanistan and whilst the rest of humanity seems to have moved on into the 21st century, the barbarians (Talibans) of Afganistan seem to live in the time of Genghis Khan.

I am amazed that the so called World opinion can be so obsessed with statutes. I wish the same World Opinion would respect lives of innocent the world over i.e. in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya and Africa.
Amir, UK

To some people, the statue of the Buddha is just another statue, perhaps a 'world heritage' or deemed as a monument that is part of our civilisation, etc. To a Buddhist, it is certainly not an idol for worshipping. The image of the Buddha serves only as a reminder and an inspiration to Buddhist of their ultimate goal or to the least, to be a person whom is beneficial to her/his fellow beings. If the amount of energy to stop the destruction of the statue can bring food and shelter, reduce suffering, eliminate oppressions and bring world peace, I believe a Buddhist would want the latter. After all, the statue like all worldly things is impermanent, bound to decay even if it is not destroyed by man. Buddhist practises compassion and loving kindness to all and tries to hold no hatred even to those who harm them. May the Talebans, people of Afghanistan and the world, be well and happy!
JeeLeong, Yeow, UK/Malaysia

If Taleban have done this to attract the world attention they have succeeded, but at the cost of history

Rajendra Kumar, UK
Oh Lord Budha forgive them for they do not know what they are doing. If Taleban have done this to attract the world attention they have succeeded, but at the cost of history. If mankind have practised the same kind of intolerant religion and faith the Taleban are practising, there would not have been more than one religion in the entire world. This is not true, implying that Taleban are wrong.
Rajendra Kumar, UK

We should certainly put pressure on the Taliban. The reason? Due to the appalling human rights, particularly where women are concerned. I do not have a problem with religion, but when it is used as a means of controlling people, and dictating the way they live, then those of us from "free" societies must have our say.
Alastair Stannah, England

This is again an Issue Impossible. As a Buddhist I am speechless by this stupidity. They are destroying their assets which could generate income for their war-ravaged country and pay for the reconstruction and feed and educate the children. But if they destroy these heritages of mankind their hopes of ever coming out of the stone ages gets even slimmer as Afghanistan does not have natural resources like oil.
RS, Finland

As horrific and senseless as it is, the Taleban are only doing what the Spanish did in the name of the Christian church throughout Central and South America. Unfortunately Islam does not have a monopoly on blind stupidity.

The comments posted today confirm that majority of Muslims support the Taleban. When thousands of Hindu Pandits were murdered or had to flee Kashmir, the West did not speak. Yesterday on a Pakistani channel a clergyman from the UK mentioned that Islam is the 2nd most popular religion and hopefully will become the most popular soon. Can the West not see that Islam is going to be dangerous for every one? MI5, now suspect that Osama bin Laden has a base in UK.
Navisharan, UK

The difference between the Ayodhya mosque being destroyed and the destruction of the statues in Afghanistan, is that in the latter it has been sanctioned by the ruling powers and in the former it was destroyed by a fanatical mob. The only similarity is that religious fundamentalism and intolerance are to blame for both.
Arvind, UK

The world stood by and still does as the Chinese have systematically desecrated the Buddhist Temples of Tibet for the last 40years. A belief that truly harbours no danger to anyone. I dare say the world will stnad by and watch this whilst at the same tutting and saying what a shame it all is.
Rob Elliott, Kosovo

The destruction of the irreplaceable statues in Afghanistan, is not an Islamic decision, in fact Islam embraces all religions, but rather it should be looked upon as a Taliban decision, which they will regret. A true Islamic State would never cause any issues to isolate itself from anyone.
Kaleem Akhtar, UK

This is another indication of what is possible in the name of religion

Ashish, USA
This is another indication of what is possible in the name of religion. I am not sure why we are so surprised at this act of these barbaric, ignorant group of riff-raff so called "freedom fighters". Have we forgotten what they do to their own women? I am just sad that the poor country no longer offers any strategic advantage to the west (and does not have a substantial oil reserve) therefore we will probably not do anything about this latest outrage either!
Ashish, USA

This mindless destruction is representative of religious fanaticism in general. The teachings of a beautiful faith have once again been twisted to the detriment of everyone, and the perpetrators lack even the most basic understanding of what they've done.
Eddie Olague, US

Many people have linked the destruction of the Buddha statues by Taliban to the destruction of an ancient "mosque" by Hindu fanatics in Ahyodya, India. Although I do not endorse the destruction of the "mosque", I feel there is absolutely no relation between the two. In India, the Hindu organisations, had asked for the relocation of the "mosque", as they felt that it was built on a temple which was destroyed by the invading Muslims. Only when the Muslims refused such a request, fanaticism took over and the "mosque" was destroyed. Whereas the Taliban refused such an offer of relocation.
AC, India

The Buddha statue crisis is a cause of concern for everyone. However the prompt and excessive concern for saving soulless statues on the one hand, and remaining deaf and dumb to the plight of several millions of living human beings in Afghanistan, Iraq, Chechnya, and Palestine. Such behaviour of the artefacts-loving is not only uncivilised it is irrational too.
Tahir, Malaysia

I don't understand why there is an international out cry for this. Where was the international community when Hindus in India destroyed the ancient Mosque. What is US/West is going to do? bomb the Taleban?
A Kashem, UK

I don't know why all these hue and cry over statue demolition, when the world was stood by silently as the US and allied forces indulged in the destruction of the historic city of Baghdad which boasts of the world's oldest civilisation. Personally, for all its shortcomings especially with regards to women's issues etc, the Taleban has demonstrated that they are men of principle. Whether you like or not what they stand for is a different matter altogether.
Abd Rahman Koya, Malaysia

One can only feel a deep sense of sorrow for Afghanistan and the people who live in that country. Their spirit has been crushed by decades of war and they have been victims of thoroughly corrupt international politics. It is this experience that has allowed a band of battle hardened "thugs" to take power. That they preach in their doctrine through the medium of Islam is irrelevant - this is to do with power struggles in a desperately poor land. It is not an Islamic act to destroy ancient monuments. You only have to look at the ancient treasures all over the Middle East to see that.
Luay Al-Khatib, UK

It is a cultural Crime. But - we Indians, demolished a place of worship. We have no right to speak now.
G, India

The Taleban have taken the right course of action

The Taleban have taken the right course of action. In a civilised manner they consulted the council of religious experts and now they are carrying out its decision. They need not be concerned with loudmouths from the UN, various irreligious governments and other arrogant individuals living outside of Afghanistan.

Having recently visited the ancient temples of Angkor Wat in Cambodia, and the vast Bagan temple complex in Myanmar, I am deeply shocked by the Taleban's vow to destroy all the images of Buddha in Afghanistan. What does it take to convince someone that the strength of a country is in its diversity and adaptability?.
Cori Higgins, USA

Destroying Buddha statues is a very silly and condemning decision made by the ruling Taliban in Afghanistan. Buddha, the most secular of all religious founders, can never be the cause of insult to any Muslim. Rampaged by vast problems of its own, the Taliban has made the worst possible decision ever made by Muslim rulers. In the present world of science and technology this decision will push Afghanistan into the ditch of every kind of problem. Indeed, the world community needs to impose more sanctions and isolate the Taliban who are defying the most humble request of human mankind.
Rajan Kafle, Nepal

Why should we be bothered about such trivial issues? Surely the life of a child in Afghanistan suffering from the sanctions, is worth more than heaps of stone?
James Richardson, UK

This destruction of ancient, peaceful Buddha statues by theTaleban will lead to the creation of a bad impression of Islam and many people will think twice before accepting the religion in the future.
R. Mani, Singapore/ India

Everyone casts blame at one another, the problem is hate and intolerance wherever it is found. Until everyone learns to react with compassion instead of anger and violence, very little will change.
Richard, USA

The senseless destruction of some of the finest artefacts of a once glorious Buddhist civilisation in Afghanistan has cut a deep wound in the psyche of the international Buddhist community

Senaka Weeraratna, Sri Lanka
The senseless destruction of some of the finest artefacts of a once glorious Buddhist civilisation in Afghanistan has cut a deep wound in the psyche of the international Buddhist community. The Buddhist world should now rise to the occasion by proceeding to construct replicas of the Bamiyan Buddha statues, either big or small, in places of Buddhist worship. Further mini replicas of these statues should be distributed to private Buddhist households. These measures would ensure that this historic legacy of Buddhist artistic achievement is not erased from public memory, and that heinous crimes committed in the name of a medieval religious duty are not forgotten.
Senaka Weeraratna, Sri Lanka

Its a world heritage and its been standing there for thousands of years. No one has the right to remove these historic monuments over the name of religion. It was being taken care by the previous Government of Afghanistan, Govt of India etc and lot of effort has gone into the restoration process which continued for more than 10 years. There was no question of religion, then in those days. Taleban is a rogue and it wants media attention, when they have other important issues at hand.
Pradeep, US

People in the west are more concerned with the statues than the people who are dying everyday

Affan, USA

The USA and UK have repeatedly launched illegal attacks on Iraq, and have only been condemned with a feeble warning, whereas the Taleban are threatened with sanctions on their already struggling economy if they carry out their religious duties. Where is the justice in that?
Mohammad Golzada, England

Anybody who: 1) Has been to a museum, 2) Reads civilization, history and culture 3) Believes in tolerance and 4) Peaceful co-existence of various faiths will be horrified. Personally it is shocking to know that there are societies in 21st Century, which still live and think with a barbaric mindset and there are people who support them.
Ravi Venkatraman, USA

This is more of a political act, rather than an un-Islamic case. The behaviour of US and UN have forced the Taleban to take such an action.
Amol, USA

Those who imposed sanctions on Taleban are mainly resposible for this act. International isolation made them wild and wicked

Abhay Kumar Nair, Accra, Ghana

The true spirit of Islam is based on equality for women, peace, tolerance and a "live and let live" policy. Whether the Taleban are following Islamic principles or not is a different issue, but the world should not be concerned with their acts like destroying statues and supposedly not giving women their rights. This is because it would only show the double standards of the present world powers. I would like to ask: How much world pressure was imposed on India to stop them from destroying a centuries' old religious place of Muslim worship in Ayodhya (which led to bloodshed claiming about 2000 lives). How much does the UN raise a hue and cry over attempts of mass cleansing of living people, and not statues, all over the world? Double standards, isn't it?
Sameer, USA

It's sad that these invaluable artefacts which have survived medieval barbarians and plunderers cannot be safeguarded in 2001. They may be of no use to Taleban, but they are part of our heritage and must be preserved if possible.
Mann, UK

Those who imposed sanctions on Taleban are mainly resposible for this act. International isolation made them wild and wicked. It is a great blunder to punish innocent people of Afghanistan just in the name of one Osama Bin Laden. Western nations should use some other peaceful means to get him arrested rather than imposing sanctions on the whole country. When they face isolation, they are not likely to use wisdom. Otherwise why they did not think of destroying the ancient monuments before?
Abhay Kumar Nair, Accra, Ghana

Some find it facile to criticize the west for the creation of the Taleban. Just to set the facts straight - they were created by Pakistan defence sevices long after the Soviets had left. Pakistan remains the major supplier and supporter of the Taleban. Pakistanis have campaigned against the sanctions against the Taliban. Much needed oil and ammunition flows to the Taleban from Pakistan. Even the theocractic justification for this intolerance came from the mullahs in Pakistan. Sanctions should be directed not just at Afghanistan but to their proxy masters in Pakistan if the Taleban are to be removed from Afghanistan.
Gopal Vaidya, India

People in the west are more concerned with the statues than the people who are dying everyday. Muslims are being slaughtered like chickens all over the worlds are where are these human rights champions to protest against these atrocities, maybe they think one statue is more important than 1,000,000 muslims
Affan, USA

It is a shame on the whole Islamic community on what the Talebans are doing. Destroying the Buddhist monuments will not make them a better people. The Afghanistan regime should concentrate more on promoting education for all and positive future plannings. Even if they destroy the monuments. it is to their own peril because they are killing themselves.
Absaloms, Nigeria

The Taleban are destroying what are, in essence, their own national assets. In the strictest sense, they can do whatever they like in their own country. However, it will be their future generation that suffers. There is no need for the rest of us to speak more.
Salome Tan Ah Huay, Potong Pasir, Singapore

No matter how cruel and unjust the Taleban may be, the best way to make a change will be to educate and not to isolate.

Noel Santos, Canada

The Taliban like Osama bin Ladin were created, trained and supported by the CIA, that is, the USA, and its allies. If the USA wants to impose sanctions then they should in fairness first impose sanctions on the C.I.A.!! American hypocrisy and double standards... rule on !!
Rahim Khan, Bradford, England

This kind of activity can definitely be classified as a barbaric in modern society. So each and every civilian must condemn this. This should not be a concern of only western countries like the US or UK.
Ravi Varma, India

No matter how cruel and unjust the Taleban may be, the best way to make a change will be to educate and not to isolate.
Noel Santos, Canada

This is their country they can do whatever they like, if there are enough Buddhists there, they can fight for their rights. The rest of the world have absolutely nothing to do with it. What if USA decides to terminate the statue of liberty? Is the UN going to fight them for it? Everyone is free, at least in their own country!
Emma, USA

Economic sanctions by the West and condemnations for destruction of Budda statues may not effect the Talebans whose needs are few and simple.

Considering themselves to be purist Muslims they take the statues to be blasphemous.

The Talibans may have the excuse of being ignorant of the present world scenario, but what about massacre of Muslims in Bosnia, Chechneya.The demolition of Ayodya Mosque in India.Where is the fair play?

The so called modern countries should first clean up their own backyard before pointing out their finger to others.
Khurrum Malik, Bangladesh

Let the Talebans exist. In Islam we tolerate other religions not respect them. They are doing that in their back garden, not the UN's, so keep out of this one. Why is this such an issue, they are only statues? Where is everyone when hundreds of people get slaughtered?
Saiqa, England

Somehow, we get angered about the decision to destroy ancient statues, but excuse the treatment of women under the rubric excuse of cultural relativism.

If these acts are found to be true, it will hurt the people of Afghanistan and perhaps even Islam more so than any other group. Muslims I know, do not condone such acts. Besides, the destruction of a statue is not going to impact Buddhism which has thrived for many thousand years. Finally, even if found to be true, lets try to educate these folks rather than act out against them -- after all, isn't that what Buddhism is all about?
Kavan, USA

Somehow, we get angered about the decision to destroy ancient statues, but excuse the treatment of women under the rubric excuse of cultural relativism. When will the treatment of women by the Taleban regime receive the international anger that it deserves? Western powers should place enormous pressure on the Taleban for the rights of women to be restored, or at least to remove the blatantly false rhetoric (about how women's rights have not been mislaid) from the Taleban's official website. Certainly the western powers' intelligence sources can prove that the official Taleban statements to the international community are false.

Outside pressures are only going to push the Afghanis further away from us

Omer Chaudhry, UK
I believe that the US and UN should stop harassing a nation which stands up for itself. I have great respect for these people since they are standing up to the only terrorists of this world, namely the US and UN. The US and UN have done very little to maintain world peace. They are like "spoilt brats", bombing any country at any time without any reasonable justification (e.g. in the case of Sudan bombing and many other). As we all know, the US controls the UN and all other countries follow in the steps of the US either due to political or economic pressures by them. Outside pressures are only going to push the Afghanis further away from us. Let's give them a chance via diplomatic channels and in a way, which makes them feel wanted. If you want peace, get it through love and not by violence or sanctions.
Omer Chaudhry, UK

Let the Taleban do what they can in their own territory. I think the western world has no right to say anything. Where was the US, Germany and all other opposing nations when a monumental ancient place of worship was being destroyed in the town of Ayodhya in 1992. Let's be fair with all nations of the world.
Muhammed M, USA

The Taliban are sowing the seed of religious conflicts for generations to come. As their justification has the backing of their religious books, this action highlights the question of Muslims to co-exist with others peacefully. Why and what do the Taliban have to fear from peaceful Buddha statues? The statues do not take up much space. Their actions damages Islam more than anything else. With this level of hatred and intolerance, how can there be peace in Afghanistan? I only wish that peace prevail in many hearts of the people in that country so that children and the elderly, and the weak can live their life without being told by the arrogant mullahs what to do.
Ven. Dhammasami, USA

Congratulations to the Taleban for having the courage and the faith to stand up to the superficial nature and fickleness of modern society and to stand up for what they believe instead of caving in to the beliefs and views of others. Isn't it about time other minority nations took a similar stance?
Asim Mirza, UK

First of all I would like to say that it is unfair to say that the Taliban is an Islamic group and represents Islam, because anyone who has knowledge about the brilliant and comprehensive religion of Islam easily understands that there is a clear message for believers that they must pay respect to other religions and provide protection to the holy places of other minorities and religions.
Mohammed Ibrahim, Afghanistan

Every society has its own morals and ethics

Nadir, USA
I think there is a lot of biased propaganda against the Taliban. Why should they have to conform to what we think is proper and right, every society has its own morals and ethics, who are we to say that ours is the only "true" one? Furthermore, we seem to make judgements by simply listening to one side of the story - ours. I would like to hear from the Taliban on the alleged allegations of women abuse and see what their side of the story is. It seems ever since the fall of communism, we have been looking for an enemy to fill their place - it seems that Islamic fundamentalism fits that role.
Nadir, USA

This is one of the most unforgivable things I've heard of. I'm not the least bit religious, but to hear of ancient, irreplaceable works of art and cultural history being vandalised like this is unbelievably sad. If they don't want them, them they should at least allow them to be taken out of the country.
Richard, UK

What of the immeasurable suffering of all the women and girls of Afghanistan since the Taleban took over?

Victoria Cooney, UK
I find it interesting that it takes the threat of destroying Buddhist statues, beautiful and valuable as they are, to draw renewed world attention to the Taleban regime, in particular condemnation from states such as Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Nepal. What of the immeasurable suffering of all the women and girls of Afghanistan since the Taleban took over? Each one a human life and more valuable than any inert object however magnificent.
Victoria Cooney, UK

The Muslim population should denounce such acts in the name of religion and preserve 'HISTORY'. Nothing can change it and these fanatically ignorant people should have no place in it.
Dr Mohammad Quereshi, USA

Whether or not we accept a Muslim state enforced by the Taleban, all would surely agree that they are politically naive in shunning potential assistance and aid. There is bound to come a time when the regime must recognise that its people cannot survive alone and it must ask for help. When that day comes, the West will be entitled to point to the human rights record, or even question the legitimacy of the regime.
Andy Millward, UK

Perhaps a predominantly Buddhist country could offer to remove the statues that are causing offence to the Taliban. Either that, or perhaps UNESCO could remove them and they could go on display in a museum. Christian countries have been just as guilty of destroying religious artefacts so I don't think we should be too accusatory over this.
Deborah, UK

What the Taleban are doing contradicts Islamic teachings. Islam is a faith of tolerance not ignorance. It states that idol worship of any kind is forbidden. However this message has been misinterpreted by the Taleban regime, and they seem to have lost any respect for other faiths.
Kashif, London, England

They must be isolated from the rest of the world for this crime.
Joseph, UK

This is an attack against what is considered 'World Heritage'. It involves our collective history as humans. No means should be spared to save it. The world has already lost too many historical treasures to religious fanatics.
Artemis, Greece

Sanctions harm the common people not governments

Ted Howl, UK
The rulers of countries who have sanctions imposed on them nearly always ignore the pressure. Sanctions harm the common people not governments. I therefore believe they are not only ineffective but unjust.
Ted Howl, UK

There doesn't appear to be any point in trying to change what the Taleban are doing. They seem to have their minds made up and aren't going to stop what they're doing because of outside protests. It's a shame that their misguided actions are going to leave Afghanistan culturally barren when their regime does finally go, which will happen at some point in the future.
Mark, UK/ Netherlands

I am aghast at this act of mindless destruction of our world heritage. It just sums up the fundamentalists that are making these decisions - misguided, mis-educated and misinformed. It is an absolute outrage. These sites belong to the world, not just to Afghanistan. They are causing no harm, no cost, no lives and have been there for 1000's of years.
Adam, UK

Many countries have violated international standards of human rights but the Taliban have crossed the boundaries of even discourse. How can any nation that blatantly tramples on the human rights of over half its population expect to have any international recognition? They are a band of thugs. In a sense, the United States and Russia, among others, share quite a bit of the moral responsibility for the Taliban. They cannot now extricate themselves from Afghanistan. Until the Taliban is an unpleasant memory sanctions, at the very least, should remain.
Rajeev Dutt, Germany

This is clearly the actions of an insecure dictatorship. I am an atheist but would not dream of destroying these historic statues. When will all religions grow up and realise that they will not ensure their future by destroying all evidence of those holding contrary views?

The kind of religious intolerance and historical shortsightedness that this represents has dangerous consequences

Mark, UK
Julian Ziegler, UK

Take whatever action is necessary to stop them from taking these statues from the world society.
Leon Mason , USA

Because the Taleban discriminate so severely against females, eventually all the women will leave. Thus, eventually the population will decline. And the ruling Taleban will grow old. Eventually the Taleban will be EXTINCT
Sahan Amarasekera, UK

Of course this kind of behaviour is nothing new - the Protestant church went on a veritable spree of icon destruction in the 17th century for similar reasons to those presented by the Taleban. The kind of religious intolerance and historical shortsightedness that this represents has dangerous consequences which go beyond the 'destruction of a few rocks' as one of their spokesmen put it.
Mark, UK

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The UN's Kenzo Oshima takes your questions on the humanitarian crises facing the organisation in Afghanistan and other parts of the world.Afghan crisis
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See also:

02 Mar 01 | South Asia
Taleban 'attack' Buddha statues
20 Jan 98 | From Our Own Correspondent
A visit to the giant Buddhas
02 Mar 01 | South Asia
Analysis: Taleban isolation deepens
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
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