Egypt takes threats to destroy Pyramids, Sphinx seriously: official
Egypt is taking a jihadist’s calls to destroy the Giza Pyramids and Sphinx “seriously,” an Egyptian interior ministry source has said, according to reports.
The source, who was not named, spoke to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper late Monday in response to Sheikh Murgan Salem al-Gohary’s television interview earlier this week.
Gohary, a jihadist with self-professed links to the Taliban, called for the “destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt,” drawing ties between the Egyptian relics and Buddha statues.
The Islamist, previously twice-sentenced under former President Hosni Mubarak for advocating violence, called on Muslims to remove such “idols.”
“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,” he said on Saturday during a television interview on an Egyptian private channel, widely watched by Egyptian and Arab audiences.
“God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols,” he added. “When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do.”
His 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.
But in retaliation to Gohary’s remarks, the vice president of Tunisia’s Ennahda party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called the live program and told Gohary that famous historic military commander Amr ibn al-Aas did not destroy statues when he conquered Egypt.
“So who are you to do it?” he wondered. “The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshiped them, but the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.”
Gohary, 50, is well-known in Egypt for his advocacy of violence, Egypt Independent reported.
In recent months, fears have surfaced that the ultra-conservative Salafi political powers may soon wish to debate new guidelines over Egyptian antiquities.
Islamists have swept the recent presidential and parliamentary elections in the country’s post-revolutionary stage, with the Muslim Brotherhood and the ultra-conservative Salafi Islamists rising to political power.