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Egypt’s Islamists Call For the Great Pyramids to be Destroyed islam destroy egypt pyramid 620x330

Egypt’s Islamists Call For the Great Pyramids to be Destroyed

salafi  Egypt’s Islamists Call For the Great Pyramids to be Destroyed salafi

Murgan Salem al-Gohary, 50, an Islamist leader

According to several reports the were coming from the Arabic media back in 2012, prominent Muslim clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt’s Great Pyramids—or, if we borrow the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those “symbols of paganism,” [1] . In January 2011, the spokesman for the Salafi Preaching Movement, Sheik Abdel Moneim el-Shahat, said the question of Egypt’s antiquities was simply a theological problem, and he suggested a compromise: Cover the heads of ancient Egyptian statues in wax. This would leave them visible, but would technically “obliterate” the faces. “I’ll do something that combines religious adherence and leaving antiquities as historic monuments,” he said on a television program. [2] The Great Sphinx, known in Arabic as Abu al-Hul, “the father of terror,” is the world’s largest monolith statue and has stood on the Giza Plateau on the Nile’s west bank since it was built sometime during the reign of Pharaoh Khafra (2558- 2532 BCE). It was reported that Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs” and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi (then president), to “destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not.”   [3]  This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad’s companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641.  Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity.  While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Muslim writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself—deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran—was destroyed under bin al-As’s reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar’s command. [4] However, while book-burning was an easy activity in the 7th century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not in the cards—even if Egypt’s Medieval Mamluk rulers managed to “de-nosed” the latter during target practice (but  popular legend still attributes this unfortunate event to a Westerner, Napoleon).  This reports which cited the prominent Bahraini sheikh, Abdellatif al-Mahmoud, as asking Morsi on Twitter to destroy the “idolatrous” pyramidswas taken from Egypt’s Rose el-Youssef magazine and  the sheikh’s Twitter account was later exposed as a hoax, The New York Times reported in July.[5]  It was not the first time such threat were made however. There is another voice that calls for the destruction of the pyramid and sphinx. Murgan Salem al-Gohary, 50, an Islamist leader twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence,told Egyptian media that the historical landmarks are’idolatrous’ and must be destroyed.  The threats are being taken seriously as ten years ago Gohary helped smash a pair of giant Buddha statues in Afghanistan. [6]  Egyptian newspaper al-Masry al-Youm said Gohary is a jihadist leader with links to the Taliban, reported the Jerusalem Post. [7]  ‘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,’ Gohary said in a Saturday night television interview, according to al-Masry al-Youm. [8] “When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do.” Adding, “All Muslims are charged with applying the teachings of Islam to remove such idols, as we did in Afghanistan when we destroyed the Buddha statues,” according to the Egypt Independent. [9] The jihadist refers to when the Taliban blew up a pair of Buddha statues and smashed other art forms in Afghanistan in 2001, according to The Jerusalem Post. [10] These were symbols of the country’s long Buddhist history.

islam-destroy-the-pyramids  Egypt’s Islamists Call For the Great Pyramids to be Destroyed islam destroy the pyramids

Murgan Salem al-Gohary’s comments came a day after thousands of ultraconservative Islamists gathered in Tahrir Square to call for the strict application of Sharia law in the new constitution.  The newspaper also cited a security official who spoke on condition of anonymity and said that the police and security authorities in Giza had “taken the necessary precautions to deal with any aggression” against the pyramids and Sphinx. “They are a source of national income and they bring tourists to Egypt,” the security source was cited as saying by al- Masry al-Youm. [11] The country has already suffered a decrease in tourism – last year sombre pictures showed rows of empty seats at the Light and Sound Show, below the historic pyramids in Cairo.  Only a year earlier the show had been fully-booked every night. [12]  The vice president of Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called in to the station to challenge al-Gohary’s interpretation of Islam. Moro said the famous military commander Amr ibn al-Aas did not destroy statues when he conquered Egypt. “So who are you to do it?” he asked. “The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshiped them, but the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.” [13]

The good news for the Salafists is that for the first time in history, like Bahrain’s “Sheikh of Sheikhs” observes, and thanks to modern technology, the pyramids can be destroyed. [14]  The only question left according to them is whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood president of Egypt is “pious” enough—if he is willing to complete the Islamization process that started under the hands of Egypt’s first Islamic conqueror.  [15] Nor is such a course of action implausible.  History is laden with examples of Muslims destroying their own pre-Islamic heritage—starting with Islam’s prophet Muhammad himself, who destroyed Arabia’s Ka‘ba temple, transforming it into a mosque.  Asking “What is it about Islam that so often turns its adherents against their own patrimony?” Daniel Pipes provides several examples, from Medieval Muslims in India destroying their forefathers’ temples, to contemporary Muslims destroying their non-Islamic heritage in Egypt, Iraq, Israel, Malaysia, and Tunisia.

video-shows-islamist-militants  Egypt’s Islamists Call For the Great Pyramids to be Destroyed video shows islamist militants

A still from a video shows Islamist militants destroying an ancient shrine in Timbuktu on July 1, 2012

Islamist fighters destroyed two tombs at the famous Djingareyber mosque in the Malian city of Timbuktu. Witnesses say militants shot into the air to warn people away while they smashed the shrines. The mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage site and contains shrines dedicated to Islamic saints. The Al-Qaeda-linked Ansar Dine group claimed responsibility for the act, saying the shrines were idolatrous. The International Criminal Court has condemned the destruction of the tombs, and warned that it could constitute a war crime. The act has led many to ask why Islamic militants would choose to demolish their own religious heritage. A spokesman for the Ansar Dine group, Oumar Ould Hamaha, told AP that the organization has “divine orders” to destroy any grave that is over 20cm tall, because anything taller encourages people to direct their prayer toward the deceased, rather than to God. Hamaha says residents of Timbuktu need to get their priorities straight and stop confusing the saints with Allah. He claims the destruction is for their own good.  But the militants aren’t solely focused on demolishing Muslim heritage; other religions have fallen victim to destruction, as well.  In 2001, the Taliban’s supreme leader issued an order against un-Islamic graven images.  The edict resulted in members using exposives, tanks, and anti-aircraft weapons to blow apart two images of Buddha in eastern Afghanistan.  [16]

In a televised interview, an Egyptian Salafi cleric answers questions related to claims that hardline Salafis in post “Arab Spring” Egypt intend to destroy some of the world’s best known remnants of humanity’s ancient civilizations and cultural heritage, namely the Giza Pyramids and the Sphinx. The Salafi cleric says that according to his version of Islam, all these statues and edifices must be destroyed just like the Statue of Buddha of Bamiyan was destroyed in Afghanistan.  Hardline radical Salafis constitute the majority of the fighting force in the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) as can be seen from their religious rhetoric, their beards that are missing the mustache, the religious apparel that they wear in battle and outside, and the ethnic cleansing of non-Sunni minorities that they engage in.   Do the supporters of the FSA realize that they are supporting people that will bring the destruction of whatever remains from Syria’s cultural heritage that these religious zealots have already destroyed a large part of?

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[1]  ‘Destroy the idols,’ Egyptian jihadist calls for removal of Sphinx, Pyramids, Al Arabiya, Monday, 12 November 2012; Egypt’s Islamists Call For The Great Pyramids To Be Destroyed, Now the End Begins, July 10, 2012; Raymond Ibrahim, Calls by Islamists to Destroy Egyptian Pyramids Begin, The Clarion Project, Tue, July 10, 2012; Sharona Schwartz, Egyptian Jihadi Leader Says: Destroy the Pyramids, The Blaze, Nov. 13, 2012 6:59am; Sadly, it’s true. Newly elected Egyptian radical Islamists really do want to destroy the Pyramids, Bare Naked Islam,  Dec 26 2011 ; Destroy the sphinx and the pyramids’, says Egyptian jihadist, The Independent, 12 November 2012 11:53 AM
[2] Michael Burleigh, The Salafist party’s plan for the Pyramids? Cover them in wax, Daily Mail,  11:06 GMT, 23 December 2011
[3] Raymond Ibrahim, Calls to Destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids Begin, Front Page Mag, July 11, 2012
[4] Raymond Ibrahim, Calls by Islamists to Destroy Egyptian Pyramids Begin, The Clarion Project, Tue, July 10, 2012
[6] Michael Burleigh, The Salafist party’s plan for the Pyramids? Cover them in wax, Daily Mail,  11:06 GMT, 23 December 2011
[7] Joanna Paraszczuk , Egyptian Salafi urges razing of Sphinx, pyramids, The Jerusalem Post, 11/13/2012 02:34
[8] Joanna Paraszczuk , Egyptian Salafi urges razing of Sphinx, pyramids, The Jerusalem Post, 11/13/2012 02:34
[10] Joanna Paraszczuk , Egyptian Salafi urges razing of Sphinx, pyramids, The Jerusalem Post, 11/13/2012 02:34
[11] Interior Ministry: We take threats to destroy Pyramids and Sphinx seriously, Egypt Independent, Mon, 12/11/2012 – 19:17; Joanna Paraszczuk , Egyptian Salafi urges razing of Sphinx, pyramids, The Jerusalem Post, 11/13/2012 02:34; Egypt takes threats to destroy Pyramids, Sphinx seriously: official, Al Arabiya, Tuesday, 13 November 2012
[12] Michael Burleigh, The Salafist party’s plan for the Pyramids? Cover them in wax, Daily Mail,  11:06 GMT, 23 December 2011
[13] Sharona Schwartz, Egyptian Jihadi Leader Says: Destroy the Pyramids, The Blaze, Nov. 13, 2012 6:59am; Stoyan Zaimov, Egypt’s Government Planning to Destroy the Great Pyramids?, Christian Post, July 10, 2012|5:07 pm
[14] Egypt’s Islamists Call For The Great Pyramids To Be Destroyed, Now the End Begins, July 10, 2012; Raymond Ibrahim, Calls by Islamists to Destroy Egyptian Pyramids Begin, The Clarion Project, Tue, July 10, 2012
[15] Raymond Ibrahim, Calls to Destroy Egypt’s Great Pyramids Begin, Front Page Mag, July 11, 2012

 

About Bill Wallace

Bill Wallace is a self-fashioned writter, a computer programmer and cybermarketer from Quebec City, Canada who decided to enter the political arena after his disillusionment with the socialist system under which he was living in the French Canadian province of Quebec.

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