Thursday, 6 December 2012

Salafist Leader Calls for the Destruction of the Pyramids and the Sphinx

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, a leader of Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafist party, recently called on Muslims to destroy the Giza pyramids and the Sphinx as a religiously mandated act of iconoclasm. "The idols and statutes that fill Egypt must be destroyed. Muslims are tasked with applying the teachings of Islam and removing these idols, just like we did in Afghanistan when we smashed the Buddha statues," said Gohary, who claims to have participated in the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan in 2001.

According to Ian Straughn, even while Egyptians are very much aware of “the role that these ruins play in the economy and various state efforts to represent Egypt as a modern-day heir to one of the world’s great civilizations,” there is “a palpable discomfort with this promotion and glorification of a pre-Islamic past.”

(Ian Straughn is a postdoctoral fellow in Islamic archaeology at the Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology and the Ancient World and the Department of Egyptology and Ancient Western Asian Studies at Brown University.)

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