by Janet Levy
No fanfare and little notice marked the 10th anniversary earlier this year of the destruction of the 1,500-year-old Bamiyan Buddhas. These 6th-century stately statues carved into sandstone cliffs in central Afghanistan included one of the tallest standing Buddhas in the world. On March 12, 2001, the 180- and 121-foot Buddhas crumpled under dynamite set off by the Taliban -- the Islamist militia group ruling Afghanistan from 1996 through late 2001. Mullah Omar, the leader of the Al Qaeda-supported movement, deemed the statutes idolatrous graven images insulting to Islam and ordered their destruction. Other Buddhist images, including statues and relief carvings as well as ancient Sikh gurdwaras and Hindu temples, were also destroyed by the Islamic terrorists belonging to the Taliban Movement.
This kind of cultural destruction has been part and parcel of Islam since its inception. According to Dr. Bill Warner, founder of the Center for the Study of Political Islam, "Political Islam has annihilated every culture it has invaded or immigrated to by destroying the host culture."
Dr. Warner cites the extinction of a once-Christian Middle East, Turkey, and North Africa, and a Zoroastrian Persia, as a result of Islamic jihad. He also includes the decimation of Hindus and Buddhists as well. All told, he totals more than 270 million "nonbelievers," including Christians, Buddhists, Hindus, Africans, and Jews, who have died in Islamic massacres since the birth of Islam 1400 years ago.
Prior to the Islamic conquests, which began in the 7th century, Afghanistan was primarily Hindu with significant minorities of Buddhists and Jains. Hinduism, the oldest living religion, began in the Indus Valley around 1500 B.C., in land which is today part of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Northwest India. Many areas of Afghanistan had strong cultural links to the Indian sub-continent where Buddha was born in modern-day Nepal to a Hindu family during the 5th century B.C. The religion he founded was an offshoot of his Hindu belief system. In the 3rd century B.C., Buddhism spread from the Indian sub-continent to Central, East, and Southeast Asia.
By the 11th century, the region that includes modern-day Afghanistan had been Islamized and the remaining Hindus and Buddhists were stripped of their legal and social rights and relegated to dhimmi status. This meant they were required to exist under shariah or Islamic doctrine and forced to pay the jizya, a tax payable to Muslims to guarantee protection against forced conversion or death.
When the Taliban came to power in 1996, Hindu and Buddhist minorities were forced to identify themselves by wearing yellow badges and the women were required to wear burkas. The destruction of the Buddhas was yet another attempt to demoralize and humiliate Hindus and Buddhists and destroy their culture. Afghanistan had been ruled by Hindu kings until 1002 A.D. and Buddhists shared common cultural and religious traditions with the rest of the Hindus; thus, the Bamiyan Buddhas were representative of the 3,000-year-old Hindu civilization and identity in Afghanistan and, as such, needed to be destroyed.
Similarly, like Afghanistan, which once flourished under Hinduism and Buddhism, the Indian sub-continent is now under siege by Islam. In Bangladesh and Pakistan, Islamization has decimated Hindus and Buddhists and forced survivors to flee. Hindus, who made up 30% of the Bangladesh population in 1941, have been reduced to a mere 11% today. In Pakistan, where the Hindu population was reduced to 3% of the population from 10%, the remaining traces of Hindus and other religious minorities are endangered by rape, forcible conversion, and marriage to Muslims. In India, with a Hindu majority, the government is yet failing to sufficiently resist attempts to elevate Islam and delegitimize Hinduism. Indian textbooks lionize Islam and cast Hinduism as an evil, exploitative, backward faith. Legislation has been proposed that will discriminate against Hindus by specifically punishing communal violence against minorities, such as Muslims, but not violence committed by minorities against majority Hindus. The official discourse omits the atrocities and genocides committed under Islamic rule, including a past replete with the destruction of religious sites, civilian massacres, and forced conversions.
The fact that nothing was done to commemorate the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas speaks to the legacy of 1,000 years of Hindu and Buddhist dhimmitude. Buddhists, who practice non-violence and offered no resistance to Muslim invaders in Afghanistan and Bangladesh, are once again threatened by Muslim attacks in Thailand. Buddhists hesitated to make demands of the Afghan government, preferring to take comfort in the belief that Buddha "takes care of himself."
In April 2011, the United States Hindu Alliance (USHA), an organization founded following 9/11 to support all religions derived from Hinduism -- including practitioners of Hinduism, Buddhism, Sikhism, and Jainism -- sent a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai demanding the rebuilding of the Bamiyan Buddhas as well as other Hindu and Sikh places of worship. The Indian government, the fifth-largest donor nation to Afghanistan and with a Muslim-courting majority party, the Indian National Congress, failed to acknowledge the anniversary as well.
In March 2011, USHA issued a petition calling for rebuilding the Bamiyan Buddhas and other Hindu heritage sites. The organization plans to collect 20,000 signatures of support by the 10th anniversary of 9/11 to symbolize the connection between the attack against the United States and the destruction of the Buddhas, both part of the global jihad to destroy all infidel cultures and replace them with Islam.
Former Islamic terrorist and Christian convert Kamal Saleem has compared Islam to a cancer. "It grows and expands until it eventually consumes and suffocates the host," Saleem says.Myriad examples throughout history bear witness to the success of Muslim expansionism, Islamization, and cultural destruction. The fate of the Buddhas may foreshadow the annihilation of yet another faith and its heritage.
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