Switzerland condemns Afghanistan over statue purge

The 53-metres tall and 2,000 year-old Buddha is said to be the world’s largest statue of a standing Buddha Keystone Archive

Switzerland has joined the international outcry against Afghanistan's Islamic Taliban movement, which has ordered the destruction of all statues and other religious imagery in the country.

This content was published on March 2, 2001 - 07:49

The Swiss foreign ministry said the monuments, which are being smashed, have immense cultural and historic value for all of humanity and called on the Taliban movement to revoke the order.

The destruction of monuments include two famous fifth-century statues of Buddha carved into a mountainside in Bamiyan province.

One Buddha, measuring 53 metres, is said to be the world's largest statue of a standing Buddha. The smaller statue is 37 metres tall.

The Afghan army started destroying monuments considered blasphemous on Thursday, after a decree from the Taliban supreme commander, Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Omar declared that all statues and idols in the country were an insult to Islam and should be destroyed.

His order followed a fatwa issued by prominent Afghan scholars and a verdict from the Afghan Supreme Court, which demanded the removal of all monuments associated with any religion other than their own.

The Taliban rules about 95 per cent of Afghanistan.

swissinfo with agencies

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