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Friday, 16 March, 2001, 16:06 GMT
Should the Taleban ignore international opinion?
Despite the religious and cultural importance of the statues of Buddha carved into the cliff-face at Bamiyan between the 2nd and 5th centuries AD, Afghanistan's ruling Taleban movement insisted that as idols, they are unIslamic.

Now, despite huge international pressure, the Taleban say the destruction is virtually complete.

So were the Taleban right to resist the demands of the international community?

Was their decision a religious or a political one? How far should any one religion accommodate the beliefs of others? Tell us what you think.

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

Your reaction

Without a doubt the measures taken by the Taliban were drastic. Similarly they proved to be a sure-shot world attention-getter. I have not seen such a presence of Afghanistan in the world's political limelight since the Soviet invasion of the forgotten land.
Umair Fazle, USA

It is important to remember that the Taliban are not destroying any place of worship or anything belonging to a place of worship. And although it is not apparent from the heated condemnations, they are not doing anything illegal either. The stone artefacts belong to their country; nobody else holds title to them.
Amir, Muslim Ummah

I find this rather a sad issue

Sophie Saunders, Japan
I find this rather a sad issue. If these Taliban leaders were truly holy men they would know that all religions lead to essentially the same thing, and that statues like these can be powerful reminders to human beings of what they could aspire to themselves. What a pity there is so little understanding towards each others' religions.
Sophie Saunders, Japan

What the Taleban are doing to the Buddha statues is terrible, and it is all done in the name of religion. I am not a Buddhist, but I value these ancient statues because of their age and historical value. If only the Taleban did the same.
Rachel, USA

The Taleban are driving nails into their own coffins. What harm can a stone carving do to their country?
Asa Ruamsamak, Thailand

I perceive a "devil may care" attitude of the Taliban. They are already in the bad books of most of the world so what difference should it make if they destroy statues that they feel have no significance. They are on a path of self-destruction. It is a twisted plea for world attention to their plight
Michelle Robertson, Pakistan

One day, future generations will marvel how our so-called "civilised world" allowed this great doldrum in Afghanistan history.
Kennedy Kelechi Halams, USA

The stoning of people by the Taliban was disturbing, but the stoning of stone is insane!
Grason, Australia

This is a political decision, not one of religion

Vic, USA
Maybe Nas in the UK should look at the ignorance with which we in the West have treated Afghanistan before commenting. We used them during the Cold War and now they are foes. What does (s)he expect? This is a political decision, not one of religion; hopefully the more shallow of you out there will get it.
Vic, USA

Oh yes. They should ignore international opinion. After all they want to live in the modern day equivalent of the Dark Ages. Who are we to stop them?
BGS, India/ USA

I just wonder what the Taleban would say if somebody destroyed some of their cultural buildings, statues, etc.
Anton, UK

This view is borne out of sheer ignorance

Nas, UK
I am appalled that a number of people are condoning this senseless act of vandalism on the grounds that they are 'just getting back at the West'. This view is borne out of sheer ignorance. Many Muslim nations, including Iran, have also expressed their outrage at the destruction of these statues, as they know that the name of Islam cannot be used as an excuse for an act clearly fuelled with hatred and intolerance.
Nas, UK

Serbs destroyed 80% of the historic buildings in Bosnia in the 1990's. There was not real outcry for that was there? I think the Taleban should have taken the opportunity to use this issue as a bartering tool in creating a better relationship with Western powers.
Imtiaz Sabir, UK

The Christians did it 400 years ago, the Taleban are doing it now. What difference does it make?
Tehseen Khan, England

It doesn't have anything to do with religion anymore

Yaseen A, Bermuda/ UK
It doesn't have anything to do with religion anymore, it's just the Taliban trying to show the rest of the world, that they are in charge of Afghanistan. In reply to Gordon, by doing this they are not trying to get the support of Islamic countries, as many of those countries have asked them to stop.
Yaseen A, Bermuda/ UK

How are we going to reconcile the chasm in religious tolerance and understanding between different parts of the world? To my mind anyone who cannot tolerate relics from another religion cannot and should not expect any sort of leniency or tolerance from others. Does this not lead us to the Middle Ages? Do we care about our historical past? The Afghan accident portends ill for a world where it is increasingly being brought closer together by technology as well as physical movement of people across borders.
Ravi, USA

What the Taliban are doing is clear evidence of failure by the world community. It shows that if you do not engage with a party on reasonable terms then you are also to blame for their irresponsible reaction.
Tahir Hameed, Pakistan/ USA

The question should be, should the international community care about anything a lawless country does? It's their heritage, their own past if they want to forget it, let them. Who knows? Their kids may follow the same thing and leave these people's beliefs shattered in the future.
Ravi, India

Thumbing your nose at the West has a certain appeal to it

Vic, USA
The decision appears to have been made based upon political issues; thumbing your nose at the West has a certain appeal to it. I fully back the right of these people to do so, but conversely they must realise that it IS going to cost them politically and economically in the long run.
Vic, USA

It is appalling to see the world crying over something that doesn't even concern them. The destruction of the statues is an internal issue for the Afghans and the Taliban. The world should leave them alone and let them do what they please.
Mohammed Arif, Pakistan

Just as Don Quixote fought the windmills, the Taleban are busy waging war on the Buddhas of Bamiyan to faithfully follow the teachings of their Prophet (may peace be upon Him). Mulla Omar's place in Heaven is indeed secure!!!
M Balaram, India/ USA

What Taleban are trying to do is understandable

Ahmad R. Shahid, Pakistan/ USA
What Taleban are trying to do is understandable, due to their ultra-religious leanings and the indifference showed towards them by the West. They were used by the West when they were needed by them and now they have been terrorised by them due to Osama Bin Laden or some other person, only they know. But one thing is clear that if one is pushed to the wall, one can only retaliate with extreme and desperate steps.
Ahmad R. Shahid, Pakistan/ USA

The Taleban are obvious trying to get the sympathy and support of Islamic nations after the US sponsored UN embargo for sheltering America's most wanted Bin Laden. Ironically many in the Taleban are questioning in private the wisdom of their supreme commander.
Gordon, India

Judaism and Christianity have survived throughout the centuries and through enlightenment and reform have become more human and tolerant. What I would like to ask the self-styled leaders of Islam is why they are holding their faith back? They are always complaining about persecution of their co-religionists in places like Chechnya. But why don't they realise that their extremism is damaging their faith in the eyes of others in the world?
Sanjay, UK

The Taliban must listen to the world community if they want to exist as a government in this world. Islam clearly states that one must stay in touch with the world (the dunya) and be concerned about all worldly things. Also, Islam doesn't permit the demolition of religious places, rather it instructs to protect churches, synagogues, temples etc.
Faris Kasim, Pakistan/ Kashmir

Listen now
... to both sides of the debate

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See also:

07 Mar 01 | South Asia
UN condemns statue destruction
20 Dec 00 | South Asia
Analysis: Who are the Taleban?
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