Destroying the Buddhas of Bamiyan “good decision” says Taliban governor

The Taliban’s governor of Bamiyan province, Abdullah Sarhadi, in an interview with the Washington Post has defended the group’s destruction of the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan.

Sarhadi said that “We should follow the demands of God.” And that the destruction in 2001 of the ancient monuments, had been a “good decision”.

The Buddha statues of Salsal and Shahmama, carved into the mountains between 300 and 700 AD, stood at 53 and 35 meters tall, respectively. These ancient statues were significant cultural and historical artifacts.

In March 2021, despite international condemnations and pleas, the Taliban’s founder Mullah Mohammad Omar ordered the destruction of the Buddhas.

However, the group’s deputy culture minister, Atiqullah Azizi, told the Washington Post that the Buddhas were “of great importance” to the Taliban government.

“More than 1,000 guards have been assigned to protect cultural heritage across Afghanistan, restricting access and overseeing ticket sales,” he added.

The Bamiyan governor told the Post that tourists should not visit the sites of the Buddhas and “be steered toward other sites.”