(Penang, Saturday): All Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or political beliefs should take a common and united stand to condemn the unIslamic Taliban destruction of the ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan so that Malaysia can stand in the very forefront in the international arena to demand an immediate halt to the Taliban vandalism of priceless cultural treasures not just of Buddhists but of mankind.
The civilized world recoils with horror as the obscurantist and medieval Talibans in Afghanistan use rocket-launchers, mortars and cannon to launch their barbaric programme to destroy all of the country’s valuable cultural, historical and archaeological artifacts, including the world-famous rock-hewn Bamiyan Buddhas, which are recognised by archeologists as two of the greatest construction works of antiquity.
The two giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, the world's tallest standing Buddha statues (175 and 124 feet) were visited by the Chinese pilgrim, Hsuan Tsang, in 632 AD and who left a description of the two colossal buddhas carved in the cliff of the Bamiyan valley. Hsuan Tsang wrote of the ten monasteries with over a thousand priests whose chanting echoed through the long green valley.
Hsuan Tsang’s journey to India along the Silk Road to bring back sacred Buddhist books to China was popularized eleven centuries later in one of the most well known works of Chinese literature - ‘Hsi Yu Chi’ (The Record of a Journey To The West).
Two hundred earlier, another Chinese pilgrm Fa Hsien in 400 AD visited Bamiyan and described the "marvellous valley" as a haven to pilgrims, scholars and devotees, and a resting place for the camel caravans laden with riches following the Silk Route from Rome to China.
Thailand has come out officially as the first ASEAN government to condemn the destruction of the ancient Buddhist statues in Afghanistan.
As a country which had spoken out loud and clear in the international arena against crimes against humanity, the Malaysian government cannot continue to keep silent especially as a multi-racial, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation, Malaysia has the responsibility to hold high the values of tolerance and respect for ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in an ever-shrinking world.
Yesterday, I had spoken by phone to the Foreign Minister, Datuk Syed Hamid Albar urging the Malaysian government to join in the international condemnation of the Taliban destruction and desecration of the Bamiyan Buddhas and other ancient Buddhist artefacts in Afghanistan to stop the abominable vandalism of the priceless heritage of humanity.
Countries like Iran, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Russia, Germany, the European Union have condemned the Taliban destruction of ancient Buddhist statues, which are most obscurantist and un-Islamic, and Malaysia should be in the forefront to defend the world civilisation’s cultural heritage.
Hamid promised to study my proposal and I would call on the Foreign Minister to set up a special task force with the specific assignment to help mobilise the international society to halt the wanton, senseless and unIslamic destruction of the priceless heritage of mankind by the Talibans.
My Muslim friends have challenged, from an Islamic point of view, the assertion that the ancient Buddhist statues should be destroyed.
They presented various Quranic arguments, such as:
Malaysia has therefore a special role to point the way to the world on tolerance and respect for ethnic, religious and cultural diversity in the world of the 21st century.