Ignorance of history is a scourge without borders. On Friday July 17, an ancient statue of Buddha was vandalized in Takht Bahi, in the district of Mardan in northern Pakistan. Deemed to be “un-Islamic”, the statue was destroyed by workers digging the foundations of a house according to Archeology News Network .

A video of the facts, which went viral in particular in India, was posted online the next day. It shows a man smashing the statue with a sledgehammer as well as other men expressing their approval. According to some Pakistani media, a local entrepreneur and five other people were arrested.

After investigation, the remains of the statue were recovered in order to assess their archaeological value. According to Abdus Samad Khan, head of the archeology department of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the vandalized Buddha statue is 1,700 years old. The relic belongs to the historical civilization of Gandhara, the former name of the Pakistani province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, which included the northwestern region of Pakistan. Revered by Buddhists, the place is considered an important regional site of Buddhist civilization.

This incident had national resonance regarding the protection of the beliefs of others. While the Constitution of Pakistan makes Islam the state religion, it nonetheless provides that all citizens have the right to profess, practice and propagate their religion, subject to the law, public order and religion. morality. Many activists and leaders have spoken out on this destruction such as Samad Khan, calling the act “crime” and of “lack of respect for religion».

«Destroying this ancient statue of Lord Buddha shows ignorance of history and lack of education said Mansha Noor, executive secretary of Caritas Pakistan, a Catholic charity based in Karachi. Our country is filled with minerals and a hidden history. We must educate our nation about the other owners of this land.»

During Antiquity, Gandhara was a commercial and cultural crossroads connecting India, Central Asia and the Middle East. In 2017, two rare ancient statues of Buddha were found at the archaeological site of Bhamala, located in the same province. The largest statue ever found represents the death of the Buddha while the second statue is a Buddha with a double halo.