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December 06, 2006

Afghans Consider Rebuilding Taliban-Demolished Bamiyan Buddhas

Every once in a whilel there's a breeze of sanity from the Islamic world.

The empty niches that once held Bamiyan's colossal Buddhas now gape in the rock face - a silent cry at the terrible destruction wrought on this fabled valley and its 1,500-year-old treasures, once the largest standing Buddha statues in the world.

It was in March 2001, when the Taliban and their Al Qaeda sponsors were at the zenith of their power in Afghanistan, that militiamen, acting on an edict to take down the "gods of the infidels," placed explosives at the base and the shoulders of the two Buddhas and blew them to pieces. To the outraged outside world, the act encapsulated the horrors of the Islamic fundamentalist government. Even Genghis Khan, who laid waste to this valley's towns and population in the 13th century, had left the Buddhas standing.

Five years later, the Taliban have been removed from power and Bamiyan's Buddhist relics are once again the focus of debate: Is it possible to restore the great Buddhas? And, if so, can the extraordinary investment that would be required be justified in a country crippled by poverty and a continued Taliban insurgency in the south and that is, after all, overwhelmingly Muslim?

...

Meanwhile, archaeologists have been taking advantage of the greatly increased access that became possible, once the statues were gone, to make new discoveries - and to pursue ancient tales of a third giant Buddha, possibly buried between the two that were destroyed.

Apparently almost all of the rock the Buddhas were built from is still there. Broken up, of course, but who knows, perhaps able to be reconstructed with an awful lot of mortar.


Would make for a nice kiss-off to the Taliban and Islamofascism generally.


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posted by Ace at 05:21 PM

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