The Buddhas of Bamiyan were monumental sculptures that stood in Afghanistan for 1,500 years. In March of 2001, the Taliban of Afghanistan succeeded in their efforts to destroy the statues in spite of wide spread protest. The Taliban government used the Islamic ban on images as justification for the extirpation of the monuments. The Times quoted Mullah Mohammed Omar as stating, “Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them.”
Since the overthrow of the Taliban in 2003, archaeologists and art historians have surveyed the rubble of the Buddha’s to determine whether or not they could be repaired or reconstructed. The overall consensus was that the damage was too thorough and pervasive to allow effective reconstruction. However, a small group – most notably the German International Council on Monuments and Sites – have continued to argue and push for the statues to be rebuilt.
The decision remains controversial and likely will be debated for decades. To read more about the debate, see the article at BBC News.