Radical Islamist destroys a Buddha statue at Japanese Garden in Cairo

(Photo : Japanes Garden, Cairo, Old and New)

In a dangerous precedent, under circumstances of semi-deliberated absence of the internal security forces, a person, who belongs to the Salafist (Radical Islamist Group), attacked one of the magnificent adorned Buddha statues that stood on the banks of the majestic holy Japanese garden, Cairo, and the result was that a head of one of the forty statues was removed!

It is amazing news that would have shaken everything if it happened in any developed or undeveloped country. All were witnessing the crime, and it marked the day celebrated by all Muslims in the East and the West for the beginning Hijra year, the 1433rd anniversary of the Prophet’s migration, as if the coincidence with the date was targeted.

Members of Salafist group, which is represented by Salafist Nour Party in Egypt, imagine that these great statues and those ancient historical monuments are idols to be worshipped! What ignorance. Subsequently we are addressed by the Minister in charge of monuments, that those remains are not idols! As if we were in need to identify that truth by him to realize that our history in its different layers; Pharaonic, Greek, Coptic, Islamic and modern do  not contradict with religion!

And naive official statements confirmed that the statue’s head did not fall and the aggressor will be punished. I believe that such a plot is serious and protracted and contagious in advance according to previous agendas managed by extremist Salafi organizations working in Muslim countries, and especially the countries claiming they return us to the law of God and his faith! Such a claim deprive the moderate Muslims who constitute the majority of 85 million Egyptians. Those radical ideas ban Muslims to visit shrines in mosques on the grounds that this is against worshipping the only and one God.

What happened today in the Japanese Garden is such an introduction and test balloon to check the official and popular reaction for this act, that was denied and was met with very clumsy criticism by public, but the government reaction was not at the required level, which hit the masses with surprise.

So far no official explained, how could this bearded individual manage to do this kind of work, which takes long time without being caught, for example, or stopped? Why did not the police move quickly to catch this person? No answers as usual.

Attractive Japanese Garden Park was built in the Egyptian capital in 1917 and it began welcoming visitors on its opening in 1922. The garden has an impressive collection of Buddha statues up to forty ones of normal size and, set around a huge statue of the Buddha and lined around the majestic holy lake. The garden is equipped with seats and umbrellas made by the trunks of trees on the Japanese style.

The hand of neglect had been extended to the Japanese garden in the eighties of the last century, prompting the Japanese government to make an offer to the Cairo governorate to restore and repair this rare masterpiece which was already open free for visitors. After renovations allocated fees were ordered to be spent on maintenance and care.

As the number of Buddha statues in the Japanese Garden in Helwan (A district in Cairo) is forty, there was myth or an old folk tale narrated by Egyptians and became a folklore associated with the Japanese garden: The forty children (small Buddha statues) were called by kids “The Forty Thieves” referring to the Arabian Nights, or thinking that they were members of a notorious gang who intended to steal Helwan hospital nearby. The thieves were hiding in the garden to prepare for the robbery at night. But God turned them to the form of those 40 statues to be a lesson for those who want to steal money of the poor and their livelihoods. The funny folk tale was mixing the scarce and entertainment in the mind of young children, but this park constitutes an important part of the Egyptian modern monuments, which is a characterization for Egypt.

This accident reminds us of the incident happened to Buddha statues in Bamiyan, Afghanistan in March 2001 when the Taliban destroyed the statues that archaeologists located on the slopes of the Bamiyan valley, to vanish these statues that had been built in the sixth century BC when the Bamiyan area was in the center of trade, as this region used to be a part of what was called the historic Silk Road.

Later, the leading Salafist Mr. Morjan Salem Al-Johary, announced on a program telecasted by Dream TV, a private Egyptian channel that they – Salafists – are going to apply the teachings of Islam and remove those idols as they did in Afghanistan when Taliban smashed statues of Buddha in Bamiyan.

Afterwards, Salafi Jihadists put their agenda, to start by destroying Sphinx and the pyramids! Such a plan that could turn Egypt to a backward country outside the context of history, just as they did in a country like Afghanistan in the name of religion. That was not Islam, as our Islamic laws encourage knowledge and science, as it used to witness the glorious era of rising civilization of Umayyad and Abbasid Muslim rule in Andalusia. So I am sure that such calls will not succeed, it is a bad time that Egypt will survive.

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