Egyptian Radical Islamist Leader Calls for the Destruction of the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx

Posted on November 12, 2012

Al Aribaya reports that as a result of the uprising in Egypt some of the world's greatest archeological treasures are in grave danger. Murgan Salem al-Gohary, a radical Islamist leader who was jailed twice by former President Hosni Mubarak, has now put out a call for true believers to destroy the Great Pyramids and the Sphinx. Al-Gohary has proclaimed that he has ties to the Taliban. In an interview seen widely in the Arab world, al-Gohary said he was with the Taliban in Afghanistan when they destroyed two ancient giant Buddhas carved into a cliff in the Bamiyan Valley in the Hindu Kush mountains. The destruction of the Buddhas caused worldwide outrage and disbelief.

Al-Gohary demands the "destruction of the Sphinx and the Giza Pyramids in Egypt," calling them blasphemous idols which must be removed. "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.... God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols...When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do."

His demands for destruction were made this past Saturday. The day before thousands of extremely conservative Islamists marched in Egypt's Tahrir Square to demand that Sharia rule be the law of the land. Al Arabiya says that the ultra-conservative Salafi party wants all Pharaonic images and statues covered with black cloth for now, with the ultimate aim of having them all destroyed. This would presumably include all of the relics from the Cairo Museum, including all the King Tut relics.

Al Arabiya quotes Eygyptian author Ahmed Osman, who writes about ancient Egypt, as saying that the fundamentalists Salafis demand that no one be able to view the Pharaonic statues because idol worship is banned in Islam. Osman says so far the new Egyptian government has made no move to protect Egyptian antiquities from fundamentalists. President Mohammed Mursi has not commented on the matter yet.

The government is moving ahead with tourism plans, however. By the end of the year, tourists will be able to tour the tomb of Queen Meresankh III, the granddaughter of Khufu. The underground Serapeum temple at Sakkara is also reported to be reopening soon. But not if al-Gohary and his cohorts have anything to say about it.