Earlier this summer, reports circulated that radical Islamic clerics had called for the destruction of Egypt's Great Pyramids and the Sphinx as "idols." Bloomsberg News somewhat gleefully declared the whole event a "hoax" and made fun of various pundits for handwringing over it. With that as background, consider that today Al Arabiya News reports:
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."
On the plus side, the news agency further reported:
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."
Let's hope it's another hoax.