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World Cares More for Buddhist Statues than Human Life
By Hebah Abdalla

Anyone who has been closely following the media reports coming out of Afghanistan this week can only come to one conclusion: that the world community cares more about ancient relics than it does human lives.

This week, shortly after Taleban leaders announced their decision to destroy two Buddhist statues carved into a sandstone cliff in the central Bamiyan province, the international community lashed out with strong condemnation.

Unsurprisingly, the United States was among the first to criticize Afghanistan's ruling regime. Relations between the Taleban and the Americans deteriorated even further after the U.S. initiated latest round of sanctions on the war-torn nation. During a State Department briefing this week, US State Department spokesman Philip Reeker said the edict against the statues "directly contradicts one of Islam's basic tenets -- tolerance for other religions".

The United Nations sent a special envoy to meet the Taleban foreign minister, warning their destruction would cause "international outrage".

The European Union, along with several other industrialized nations urged the Taleban to reverse the decision. Shortly thereafter, a long list of countries joined the international uproar over the relics, including Malaysia, Germany, Russia, India, and Japan.

Even Egypt's spiritual leader, mufti Sheikh Nasr Farid Wassel, expressed "astonishment" at the Taleban's decision, saying they had no negative impact on Muslims.
Sri Lanka and India even offered to move and protect the statues if the Afghani government would agree.

And without hesitation, the international media dutifully reported the outpouring of grief and anger over the threatened Buddhas, as one headline read, "Worldwide horror as Afghan Taleban begin smashing ancient statues".

But there was no "worldwide horror" or "international outrage" when UN officials announced Friday that more than 260 people have died in displacement camps in northern Afghanistan where an additional 117,000 people are living in miserable conditions.

There was no outpouring of grief for those refugees who mostly died of hunger and exposure to cold weather. Sadly, no one seemed to care tha tmost of the deceased were children under the age of five, elderly men, and women who did not survive childbirth.

And there were no invitations to house these refugees as conditions in these camps are expected to deteriorate.

Perhaps the only consolation in all of this, is that these refugees may never know how much the world cared for two statues and how little it cared for them (iviews). 

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