The author analyses a rare case of mirror-outrage that followed the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. This event brought the Taliban and the international community into opposition in 2001. The article first stresses the intriguing paradigmatic similarities between the destruction of the Buddhas and the destruction of Artemis Temple in 356 BC, when the eradication of a monument, sacred as well as emblematic of a cultural heritage, was perceived as an outrage against piety and beauty. This analogy helps the author emphasize the uncertainty regarding the identification of the victims: were they ‘the people’ in general, abstract deities, or specific communities? The article then elaborates on the argumentation and self-justification presented by the Taliban, and underlies their sense of indignation at a protest coming from ‘Christian’ countries, which they saw as exclusively concerned with saving ‘idols’ but ignorant of the ordeal endured by the Afghans. It finally argues that conflicting visions over the very meaning of ‘cultural heritage’ were at the core of the controversy.