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Taliban seek Muslim support

Kabul: Taliban chief Mulla Mohammad Omar used the Eid-al-Adha festival to urge the Muslim world to support the destruction of ancient Buddhist icons and unite behind his vision of Islam.

The reclusive war veteran and ‘Islamic scholar’ said the annihilation of Buddhist statues in Afghanistan would proceed despite vehement international condemnation and protests from Islamic states. He said the statues, including the giant ancient Buddhas in the central province of Bamiyan, were only ‘one per cent’ of Afghanistan's historical heritage. Omar also dismissed the global outcry as a ‘drama’ which should be transparent to Muslims with ‘common sense.’

‘Now that we are destroying false idols, the world has made a drama out of this. The Muslims of the world, particularly Afghan Muslims, should use their commonsense,’ the Taliban militia's Radio Shariat quoted him as saying. ‘I would like to ask you, do you prefer to be called statue-destroyers or statue-sellers?’

Omar last week ordered his followers to destroy all statues in Afghanistan, including the country's precious pre-Islamic figures, to prevent idolatry in line with a fatwa (religious decree) from local clerics.

The Islamic world has also expressed its indignation, notably Pakistan, one of only three countries which recognizes the Taliban regime and its closest ally. Messages from Islamic states and religious leaders have stressed that tolerance for other religions is a basic tenet of Islam.

But Omar, known as Amir-ul-Mominin (Commander of the Faithful) in Taliban circles, said the issue was clear-cut and Muslims should not be influenced by people of other faiths.

‘I would like to ask the world Muslims not to harmonize their voices with those of non-believers,’ he said. ‘The infidels want to rob Islam of its spirit.’

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