Bangladesh removes ‘un-Islamic’ statue after protests

DHAKA, Bangladesh on Friday withdrew a controversial statue of a goddess of justice outside the Supreme Court that hard-line religious had considered “non-Islamic,” a move its creator has marked a victory for Islamists.
The hard line wanted the image of the woman at the base of the bed, holding a scale in the hand – a version of Bangladesh of the Greek goddess of justice – be replaced by a Koran.
The sculptor Mrinal Haque suppressed the tears that watch the retreat of the statue after less than six months, saying that it was “a clear corpse”.
“Even my mother did not die made me so distressed,” he told AFP Haque, adding that the court’s decision was a victory for the Islamists who organised months of protests against the statue.
The kidnapping provoked demonstrations outside the courtroom and on the campus of Dhaka University, a secular stronghold, activists who see it as a disturbing sign of Islamization creeping in.
Police fired rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons to disperse hundreds of protesting students and left-wing activists against the withdrawal, according to an AFP photographer at the scene.
“This is a betrayal of the people. The depressing thing is that the government uses it as a political tool,” senior secular activist Imran Sarkar told AFP.
Haque said that the authorities had “hegemony spent in Hefazat (-e-Islam)”, referring to the Islamist hard-line group that has carried out a series of demonstrations that demanded the destruction of the statue.
There were no official comments from the court or the government, but the attorney general said the recall had been discussed before the court on Thursday.
“It was a court decision,” he said.
Bangladesh’s Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who heads the secular Awami League party, is initially far from the line.
She broke her silence last month to describe the statue of “ridiculous” after inviting leading Islamist leaders into her residence.
“I do not like myself. We call a Greek statue, but is it a Greek statue coming here?” She said.
The sculptor Haque rejected this claim.
“It is a sculpture of a woman wearing a traditional Bengali sari, blouse, petticoat and bracelets,” he said.

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