China's Buddhists condemn Taliban destruction
BEIJING, March 4 (Reuters) - The state-run Buddhist Association of China called on Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement to immediately halt the destruction of two huge Buddha statues, Xinhua news agency reported.
The Taliban used mortars and cannon on Friday to try to destroy the statues after a ruling by Taliban leader Mullah Mohammad Omar that all such statues in Afghanistan should be destroyed because they are un-Islamic.
The move to destroy the Buddhas, the biggest such statues in the world, triggered worldwide condemnation.
"We urge the Taliban to halt this destructive act immediately," the official agency quoted a Buddhist official saying in a statement issued late on Saturday.
"Chinese Buddhist circles are concerned about this decision, which deeply offends the feelings of Buddhists," the statement said.
The statement came as the Taliban's Information and Culture Minister Qudratullah Jamal told reporters the Islamic movement had been busy removing bit by bit the Buddhas, which are hewn into a cliff in the central town of Bamiyan.
"We have the intention to spare no statues. Work is going on now on the destruction of Bamiyan's statues," he said on Saturday.
The two Budhhas, which tower 175 feet (53 m) and 120 feet (37 metres), are the first known examples of the massive Buddha images and the style later spread through Asia.
The Buddhist heritage of China and the Chinese-controlled region of Tibet suffered widespread destruction during the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution, when Mao Zedong's fanatical followers tried to obliterate all traces of ancient culture.
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