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Bangladesh: Threats to prominent human rights advocate Sultana Kamal

Sunday 4 June 2017, by Marieme Helie Lucas

Source: siawi. org

June 3, 2017

Marieme Helie Lucas

Threats to Sultana Kamal

It has been a shock to discover in the media (http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/nation/2017/06/02/hefazat-arrest-sultana-kamal) that Hefazat was calling for Ms Sultana Kamal’s immediate emprisonment or forced exile.

Ms Kamal is a highly respected human rights advocate - well known nationally and internationally - whose work i have been following for the past 35 years.
She was also one of the very first women to join the struggle for the liberation of Bangladesh and her credentials in terms of loyalty to her country are impeccable. How could such a national figure be threatened with being forcibly sent out of her own country, into exile?

If i understand correctly, in a talk show in which Ms Kamal also participated, Hefazat leader Mufti Shakawat Hossain defended the view that a statue representing Justice (traditionally erected in front of a Court of Justice), was akin to an idol and that idols had no place in a Muslim country.
It is highly debatable that a Greek-style statue of Justice could be equated to an idol, as if it were part of the iconography of a specific religion.

Moreover, Hefazat leader stated that no religious structures should be on the Supreme Court premises. In response, Ms Kamal quite logically pointed out that his own statement would lead to the conclusion that mosques should also be banned from the premises.

If such a classic statue were a religious one - which is clearly not the case -, it would fall under the ban of all religious structures, as would and should in fact be the case in any secular country such, as Bangladesh.
Alternatively, in any democratic country, all citizens and subsequently their religious views would be treated at par, and any religious structure could be tolerated.

We will follow closely the decisions the present government of Bangladesh will take in the coming days, regarding the protection of rights of prominent citizens such as Ms Sultana Kamal.

marieme helie lucas