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Bangladesh: The govt should not have removed the Lady Justice Statue from its initial location and should now firmly stand up against fundamentalists

Saturday 3 June 2017, by siawi3


Bangladesh: The govt should not have removed the Lady Justice Statue from its initial location and should now firmly stand up against fundamentalists

28 May 2017


Dhaka Tribune - May 26, 2017

Editorial: A slippery slope

Indeed, it is likely that this will be seen as a great victory by the fundamentalists

So it has finally happened: The statue of Lady Justice has been removed from the Supreme Court premises.

The statue has been laden with controversy of late, as Hefazat-e-Islam declared that structure was against Islamic values, and have been agitating for its removal for some time.

Taking into account that the holy month of Ramadan is just around the corner, and the looming threat of violence surrounding this issue, we can appreciate how this was an extraordinarily thorny dilemma for the government.

Neither can we forget the horrific terror attack at Holey Artisan Bakery last year — that also happened during Ramadan. Given the apparent uptick in terrorist activity that recent militant arrests and busts suggest, the government’s caution on hot button issues is understandable.

Thus, if the authorities have determined that the wisest course of action for the sake of public safety and harmony is to remove the statue from the Supreme Court premises, we cannot simply condemn them out of hand.

This was undoubtedly a tough decision, and we have no doubt it was made in good conscience with the best of intentions.

However, be that as it may, we fear that it might be the first step on a slippery slope to cave in to demands such as these.

While the government’s motives can be sympathised with, and their actions understood, on balance, we feel this was a mistake, with the nation standing to lose more in the long run than we can possibly gain in the short from the decision.

The concern is that giving in to pressure from fundamentalists will only embolden them further.

Not only that, if the government is to make concessions, then it must receive something in return. That is elementary statecraft.

It is unclear what, if anything, the government will get in return for this concession.

Indeed, it is likely that this will be seen as a great victory by the fundamentalists, who will now only demand more and more, and continue to put further pressure on the government for anything and everything they do not agree with.

Appeasing groups that use fear rather than reason is a dangerous road to take.

Where do we go from here?

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New Age (Bangladesh) 28 May 2017

Editorial: Removal of statue is capitulation to communalism

THE removal of Lady Justice, a Roman allegorical personification of the moral force in judicial systems, blind-folded, with a set of scales suspended from her left hand and a sword in the right hand, from in front of the Supreme Court and, especially, the context of the removal, are gravely concerning. This is so irrespective of the debate whether it was a statue or an idol, whether it was Themis, the Greek goddess of justice, or an acculturised Bengali woman in sari and whether it was art par excellence or not. What matters is all the three distinctive features of the moral force in judicial systems — a set of scales, blind-folding and a sword — which have always been variously represented across the world and down the ages. What also matters is that after it had been installed on the Supreme Court premises on December 18, 2016, Islamic groups such as Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, Islami Oikya Jote and Islamic Constitution Movement demanded its removal, it was removed early Thursday after the prime minister Sheikh Hasina, also the Awami League president, had assured Hefazat leaders of its removal. Hefazat later duly expressed its thankfulness for the government. All this amounts to the government giving in to pressure of some Islamists, breaking away from non-communal promises of the spirit of the independence war that created Bangladesh in 1971.
The argument that Islamists had put forth is that a Muslim state cannot erect idols, and on the same ground, they have already demanded that all the idols, read statues, have to be dismantled from public places. But when the war of independence was fought in 1971, people of all faiths joined in, which makes Bangladesh a land of people of all faiths and non-communal. The removal of the statue is, therefore, not in synch with the aspirations that people had during Bangladesh’s war. It is true that more than 90 per cent of the people here are Muslims but people of other faiths, but the Islamists in question politically represent a small section of Muslim population of the country. The government’s now bowing to these Islamist groups only appears to be a cultural manifestation of Islam being constitutionally recognised as the state religion, which then-president HM Ershad effected in 1988 to hypocritically win popular support. The removal of the statue has created such a furore among non-communal sections of people that even the Workers Party of Bangladesh, a component of the ruling coalition, has denounced it as the government’s ‘shameful surrender’ to demands of the Islamists. On the other front, the government appears to be playing cheap politics by saying that it was the Supreme Court authorities that decided on the removal, which seems implausible, particularly when the head of the government had clearly supported the Hefazat demand a few weeks ago. Such ploys to befool people will in all likelihood court the worse for the Awami League and for people at large.
The government must, under the circumstances, stop entertaining such demands of the Islamist group as the Islamist groups would be demanding more communalisation of the state. Hefazat-e-Islam already on Friday demanded that all statues of the country should be pulled down. The government must consider that thousands of Muslims of the country do not subscribe to the Hefazat ideas and that most Muslims of the country want a non-communal state in Bangladesh.

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The Dhaka Tribune - May 28, 2017

Lady Justice statue re-erected on Supreme Court premises

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New Age - 29 May 2017

REINSTALLATION OF STATUE OF JUSTICE: Islamist groups threaten tough movement

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The Dhaka Tribune - May 29, 2017

Civil society members still unhappy