An Egyptian Islamist leader with ties to the Taliban has called for the "destruction of the Sphinx and Giza pyramids", suggesting these "idols" contravene the laws of Islam, reports Al Arabiya.
Murgan Salem al-Gohary, who served two jail sentences under former President Hosni Mubarak for inciting violence, called on Muslims to remove the ancient Egyptian relics in an interview broadcast Saturday.
"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", he said, speaking on a popular Egyptian private television channel.
“God ordered Prophet Mohammed to destroy idols,” he added. “When I was with the Taliban we destroyed the statue of Buddha, something the government failed to do."
Al-Gohary's incendiary comments come one day after a Salafist rally in Tahrir square that called for the introduction of Sharia law.
In the wake of Egypt's revolutions, the ultraconservative Salafist party has risen to become the second most influential force in parliament, behind the Muslim Brotherhood.
According to Egyptian author Ahmed Osman, the Salafis sympathise with Al-Gohary's view, and have demanded that Pharaonic statues be covered.
But the vice president of Tunisia's Islamist Ennahda party, Sheikh Abdel Fattah Moro, called the live programme on which Al-Gohary was a guest to challenge his interpretation of Islam. "The Prophet destroyed the idols because people worshipped them", he said. "But the Sphinx and the Pyramids are not worshiped.”