Bangladeshi Islamists rejoice at PM Hasina’s capitulation to agitation over ‘Lady Justice’ sculpture on Supreme Court premises

Islami Andolan Bangladesh leader SM Abdul Azid said:“PM Hasina respected and responded to our demand by saying that she did not like the idol.”

Islamists term PM’s SC idol remark victory
Dhaka Tribune File Photo
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on Tuesday said she would talk to the chief justice reportedly about the removal of the sculpture of Lady Justice, portraying Greek goddess Themis, from the Supreme Court premises.

Afterwards, Islamist groups mainly including Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh termed the premier’s statement a victory and hailed Hasina claiming that she too did not want the idol to exist there. The premier said that she had not liked that sculpture too.

Before the prime minister, her Special Envoy and Jatiya Party Chairman and Sholakia Eidgah Khatib Fariduddin Masuud also opposed the erection of the statue.

On April 9, a writ petition was filed with the High Court seeking removal of the statue of the Greek goddess from the entrance of the Supreme Court.

Qawmi madrasa-based Islamist platform Hefazat, which eyes Shariah law in the country, and several other radical groups including Awami Olama League and Islami Andolon Bangladesh have been campaigning against the sculpture, terming it anti-Islamic, since December last year. They demand that a sculpture of the Qur’an is installed instead.

Removal of “idols of humans and animals” and stopping floral tributes was a key demand of the Hefazat’s 13-point charter introduced in 2013.

The Islamist groups’ demands come at a time when the apex court issued two major verdicts – banning the use of scale as an electoral symbol and erasing the names of 20 convicted war criminals and anti-liberation people from roads and educational institutions across the country.

When asked, Hefazat Secretary General Junaid Babunagari Tuesday said they were happy that the prime minister had finally realised their demand.

Also Read: AQIS supports Hefazat on SC statue removal

Islami Andolan Bangladesh leader SM Abdul Azid said: “PM Hasina respected and responded to our demand by saying that she did not like the idol.”

Hefazat’s Dhaka unit leader and Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) Secretary General Mufti Fayzullah Saadi, seconded the duo, saying that the premier being a Muslim corresponded to the religious sentiment of the Muslim-majority nation.

Bangladesh Khilafat Majlish leader Abul Hasanat Amini said: “We are really elated and it is a victory for Muslims here who cover 92% of the total population.”

Earlier, Attorney General Mahbubey Alam told the Dhaka Tribune: “The demands brought up by the Islamist parties are irrational and baseless. There is no way to think that the sculpture will be removed if anyone demands so.”

Khushi Kabir, head of rights organisation Nijera Kori, told the Dhaka Tribune: “There are many sculptures in our country which carry the significance of our identity, history and tradition. They have no authority to demand the destruction of these historical and aesthetic sculptures.”

She feared that if this demand was fulfilled, these groups would raise questions about other sculptures such as “Oporajeyo Bangla,” “Raju Bhashkorjo,” or “Amar Ekushey.”

“The demolition of the Lalon sculpture from in front of Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport [in 2008] encouraged the religious zealots to make such demands,” she added.

Republished with permission from Dhaka Tribune.



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