Since we are studying Ancient Egypt, this story is especially timely. The kids and I had some really deep discussions about this and the actual destruction of the Buddha of Bamiyan back in 2001.
Some radical Islamists view the pyramids as symbols of paganism that should be destroyed. In fact, a couple of weeks ago (Nov. 10, 2012), Murgan Salem al-Gohary, the leader of Egypt’s ultra-conservative Salafist party called for the “destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt” during an interview on TV. He said on Egyptian Dream TV that if he ever came to power he would not hesitate to destroy the pyramids and sphinx as “every pagan and idol must be destroyed.”
Could you imagine if these ancient treasures were destroyed?
Al-Gohary was asked, “If you are in power, will you destroy the Sphinx and the pyramids and all the pharoanic statues and all the pharoanic artifacts?”
Al-Gohary replied, “Everything, if it is a pagan statue or idol, that is worshiped or suspected to be worshipped, or is worshiped by one person on Earth, must be destroyed. We, or someone else, must destroy it.”
Al-Gohary even claimed he participated in the destruction of the ancient Buddhas of Bamiyan back in 2001:
Al-Gohary said, “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 when we smashed the Buddha statues.” Mullah Omar and the Afghan Taliban destroyed the Buddhas of Bamiyan in March of 2001.
Tourism accounts for more than 11% of Egypt’s economy. Still, there has been a long struggle for Islamic scholars and others to reconcile Egypt’s ancient past with their religious beliefs.
Egyptian officials are taking the threat seriously and have taken precautions to prevent abuse or aggression against the pyramids or other archaeological treasures.