'DESTROY THE PYRAMIDS,'
ISLAMISTS TELL EGYPT'S NEW PRESIDENT
AS EGYPT descends into political chaos, prominent Moslem clerics have begun to call for the demolition of Egypt's Pyramids — or, in the words of Saudi Sheikh Ali bin Said al-Rabi‘i, those "symbols of paganism," which Egypt’s Salafi party has long planned to cover with wax.
Most recently, Bahrain"s Sheikh of Sunni Sheikhs and President of National Unity, Abd al-Latif al-Mahmoud, called on Egypt's new president, Muhammad Morsi, to "destroy the Pyramids and accomplish what the Sahabi Amr bin al-As could not."
This is a reference to the Muslim Prophet Muhammad's companion, Amr bin al-As and his Arabian tribesmen, who invaded and conquered Egypt circa 641.
Under al-As and subsequent Muslim rule, many Egyptian antiquities were destroyed as relics of infidelity.
While most Western academics argue otherwise, according to early Moslem writers, the great Library of Alexandria itself — deemed a repository of pagan knowledge contradicting the Koran — was destroyed under bin al-As's reign and in compliance with Caliph Omar's command.
However, while book-burning was an easy activity in the 7th century, destroying the mountain-like pyramids and their guardian Sphinx was not — even if Egypt's Medieval Mamluk rulers "de-nosed" the Spinx during target practice (though popular legend still attributes it to a Westerner, Napoleon).
Now, however, as Bahrain's Sheikh of Sheikhs observes, and thanks to modern technology, the pyramids can be destroyed. The only question left is whether the Moslim Brotherhood president of Egypt is "pious" enough — if he is willing to complete the Islamization process that started under the hands of Egypt’s first Islamic conqueror.
Nor is such a course of action implausible. History is laden with examples of Moslems destroying their own pre-Islamic heritage — starting with Islam's prophet Muhammad himself, who destroyed Arabia’s Ka‘ba temple, transforming it into a mosque.
As much as I, PRIEST HERNESTUS, am an Egyptophile, I have to state that the Egyptians have been their own worst enemy when it comes to destroying their own cultural heritage. And for years I have feared that if a radical government were to come to power in Egypt, I had no doubt that pre-Islamic monuments would be in serious danger of the same sort of destruction that occurred in Afghanistan under the Taliban.
The LOOTING EPIDEMIC that is sweeping Egypt is an ominous sign that my fears may be justified.
After all, it has happened before in Egypt. The systematic destruction of ANTINOOPOLIS is a prime example.
In his authoritative book BELOVED AND GOD, historian Royston Lambert describes the systematic destruction of the Sacred City, which was still thriving when the Arabs invaded ....
"Saladin (1137-93) emerges in the chronicles to order the great doors of the theatre arch to a gate in Cairo where they were still to be seen in the eighteenth century. More ominously, he is said to have ordered the city's demolition, though other Arab writers speak contradictorily of its extensive remains.
"The final destruction is charged indubitably to modern man. When Sigard toured the city in 1715 it was already in ruins. For centuries the locals had used it as a quarry for their homes, mosques and cemeteries. The north and east gates were piles of stones, the colonnades mainly fallen, but the western and southern gates stood substantially intact, architectural features were everywhere visible and even the minor streets could be discerned."
"Even the nitrous soil, rich in papyri, was carted off in loads to supply a gunpowder establishment or nibbled away by the ever-active nitre-gatherers of the valley, the sebbakhin.
"By the 1880s Dr. Freund, reporting back to Dietrichson, wailed: 'The Egyptians seek the last stone, the last piece of burnt brick'. He encountered great piles of recently smashed up stones and shafts. Nevertheless there were a few stumps of columns still obstinately standing and 'everywhere fragments of lovely marbles, remains of panels from houses and splendid remains of columns'.
"When in 1913 Johnson took the first photographs, Antinoopolis had vanished along with the meretricious local prosperity which had consumed it. His prints reveal a ravaged landscape of rubbish and shard tips and of trenches, like a torn battlefield of the coming World War, across which some paving from the great thoroughfare, now shrunken to a ghostly path, arbitrarily and sadly makes its way.
"By the irony of time, the scene which meets modern eyes at that bend of the Nile — with its desolate plain, fringe of palms, miserable village and archaic temple — has reverted back two millennia to that which Antinous may well have glimpsed in his expiring struggles before his head sank finally beneath the waters."