Saudi National Breaks Buddhist Statues in Japan

Saudi National Breaks Buddhist Statues in Japan
The Saudi Embassy in Tokyo is closely following the case of a Saudi citizen studying in the country, recently arrested for breaking four 300 year-old Buddha statues at a temple in the capital. The embassy has reportedly condemned the statues’ destruction as "contrary to the principles of Islam," and has reached out to the temple's director.
The head of Saudi Arabia's department of information at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs promptly condemned the student's act on Twitter. In an effort to promote a national image of tolerance, he retweeted one prominent Saudi professor’s praise of the embassy’s response: “A tribute to our embassy in Japan for its good actions and its efforts to protect the image of Islam and preserve its name.”

والتحية لسفارتنا في اليابان وحسن تصرفها كي تحمي صورة الإسلام وتحصن اسمه @kalsuhail @aziizturk @OsamaNugali

— عبدالله الغذامي (@ghathami) June 16, 2014

In the meantime, a Japanese student tweeted an angry message along with an image of a broken statue:

@tbuddhaproverbs RT the Japanese never forgive a Saudi Graduate student who destroyed four Buddha statues

— 在日外国人ã‚"日本から徹底æŽ"除しよう (@Laune_Katze) June 13, 2014

Saudi Arabia’s ruling family follows a Wahhabi version of Islam, in which images or statues are thought as idolatrous or blasphemous. Wahhabism was born in the 18th century as a religious revival movement, focused on a return to the scriptures and on the strictest interpretation of monotheism and the absolute uniqueness of God.
The founder of this radical branch of Islam particularly forbade the construction of statues — even for Muslim religious figures — out of fear that Muslims would forget that the statues only represented divine figures and were not, in themselves, objects of worship. “Associating partners to God” is a serious transgression, described in Arabic as shirk.
Photo: Screenshot from ANN Japan TV showing the destroyed Buddha statues in Tokyo.
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In Argentina, A Visit To World's Highest Solar Energy Park

With loans and solar panels from China, the massive solar park has been opened a year and is already powering the surrounding areas. Now the Chinese supplier is pushing for an expansion.

960,000 solar panels have been installed at the Cauchari park

Silvia Naishtat

CAUCHARI — Driving across the border with Chile into the northwest Argentine department of Susques, you may spot what looks like a black mass in the distance. Arriving at a 4,000-meter altitude in the municipality of Cauchari, what comes into view instead is an assembly of 960,000 solar panels. It is the world's highest photovoltaic (PV) park, which is also the second biggest solar energy facility in Latin America, after Mexico's Aguascalientes plant.

Spread over 800 hectares in an arid landscape, the Cauchari park has been operating for a year, and has so far turned sunshine into 315 megawatts of electricity, enough to power the local provincial capital of Jujuy through the national grid.

It has also generated some $50 million for the province, which Governor Gerardo Morales has allocated to building 239 schools.

Abundant sunshine, low temperatures

The physicist Martín Albornoz says Cauchari, which means "link to the sun," is exposed to the best solar radiation anywhere. The area has 260 days of sunshine, with no smog and relatively low temperatures, which helps keep the panels in optimal conditions.

Its construction began with a loan of more than $331 million from China's Eximbank, which allowed the purchase of panels made in Shanghai. They arrived in Buenos Aires in 2,500 containers and were later trucked a considerable distance to the site in Cauchari . This was a titanic project that required 1,200 builders and 10-ton cranes, but will save some 780,000 tons of CO2 emissions a year.

It is now run by 60 technicians. Its panels, with a 25-year guarantee, follow the sun's path and are cleaned twice a year. The plant is expected to have a service life of 40 years. Its choice of location was based on power lines traced in the 1990s to export power to Chile, now fed by the park.

Chinese engineers working in an office at the Cauchari park


Chinese want to expand

The plant belongs to the public-sector firm Jemse (Jujuy Energía y Minería), created in 2011 by the province's then governor Eduardo Fellner. Jemse's president, Felipe Albornoz, says that once Chinese credits are repaid in 20 years, Cauchari will earn the province $600 million.

The Argentine Energy ministry must now decide on the park's proposed expansion. The Chinese would pay in $200 million, which will help install 400,000 additional panels and generate enough power for the entire province of Jujuy.

The park's CEO, Guillermo Hoerth, observes that state policies are key to turning Jujuy into a green province. "We must change the production model. The world is rapidly cutting fossil fuel emissions. This is a great opportunity," Hoerth says.

The province's energy chief, Mario Pizarro, says in turn that Susques and three other provincial districts are already self-sufficient with clean energy, and three other districts would soon follow.

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