The Taliban have just returned from conquering Afghanistan and are now welcoming tourists to visit the Bamiyan Buddha statues. These ancient monuments were destroyed by the Taliban two decades earlier.
Hewn out of a rocky cliffside in central Afghanistan’s Bamyan Valley around the sixth Century AD, the Bamiyan Buddhas stood more than 150 feet tall for 1,400 years, until the Taliban blew them to pieces with high explosives in 2001, shortly before the US invasion ended their brief reign over Afghanistan.
The Taliban have now taken over the area and are open to all. According to NBC News this week, visitors can pay $5 at a ticket stand to the Taliban to see the abandoned Buddhas’ graves.
One Afghan visitor told NBC that he didn’t come to the site to mourn the loss of the statues, but to celebrate their destruction.
“I was young when these were destroyed, about seven years old, and since then it has been a dream to come and see what happened here,”He stated. “I’m happy it was destroyed. I’m here to see the ruins actually.”
Mullah, the Taliban’s co-founder and founder, gave orders to remove the statues even though they had been preserved for tourists two years before. Omar later made conflicting statements regarding the destruction of Buddhas. At first, Omar claimed that Omar did it out of frustration at the West’s inattention to the fate of Afghan statues more than the lives of Afghans. Then, Omar reportedly said that Omar was stating, “It is not about Afghan people. It is about statues.” “Muslims should be proud of smashing idols,”And that they were destroyed “in accordance with Islamic law.”
UNESCO has urged the Taliban not to destroy the Bamyan site or any similar sites in the country. “it is crucial for the future of Afghanistan to safeguard and preserve these landmarks.”
The new Taliban government is more moderate than that of the Taliban in the 1990s. However, it’s uncertain what the future holds for the Bamiyan Buddhas.
The region’s governor, former Guantanamo Bay inmate Abdullah Sarhad, told NBC that he is waiting for directions from the Taliban’s upper echelons before making any changes to the site. But he stated that “we want to show the world there is peace and security in Afghanistan now.”
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