In response to protests from the hardline Muslim group Hefazat-e-Islam, a statue of a woman personifying justice has been removed from outside Bangladesh’s Supreme Court building. The Islamic group had condemned the statue as an “idol,” and further called for the removal of all public art representing humans or animals — as well as the discontinuation of all life-drawing art classes in public schools.
The creator of the sculpture, Bangladeshi artist Mrinal Haque, said that he had been ordered to dismantle the monument just five months after its initial installation. The removal of the sculpture, he added, was a “defeat for the freedom-loving secular people of the country.”
“This is an alarming signal for our country,” Haque added. “We all have to stand against this fundamentalist movement.”
In Bangladesh, a 90 percent Muslim country with a long history of secular and democratic government, tensions between religious leaders and proponents of secularism have been on the rise. Last month, Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina denounced the statue as a depiction of the Greek goddess Themis — a move that left-wing critics have condemned as an attempt at courting votes from Muslim hard-liners in future elections.
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