Thursday, May 30, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

News Analysis: More is at stake than a statue

Update : 26 May 2017, 12:03 PM
Before we get into a debate over the difference between an idol and a sculpture, the fundamentalists among us should be asked whether they acknowledge and recognise the Supreme Court in the first place. Indeed several Islamist attacks have been directed against courts and judges precisely because the clerics said judges and courts uphold and represent an un-Islamic dispensation, if not a godless one. The Supreme Court, where Lady Justice stands with her scales, is dedicated to upholding the constitution of Bangladesh. This constitution, in true democratic spirit, upholds and embraces the sovereignty of the citizen. It is the citizen who is the source of all power. This philosophy directly contradicts with that of the Islamist parties, and hence the conflict between a democratic system and one prescribed by Islamists. However, when clerics talk about Lady Justice and not the iconic Aparajeyo Bangla or any of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s busts, it can only be presumed that they attach more significance to this statue than the others. Now, if they do not even recognise an institution then they cannot comment on it. If Bangladesh does not recognise a country, then our government cannot urge that government to behave responsibly. But such reasoning can only be expected to work with a reasonable and rational quarter, which the Islamists have shown little evidence of being. Soon after getting an assurance from the prime minister that Lady Justice would be removed, the clerics were out with the demand of removing all statues. One cannot presume any longer that the prime minister was just trying to placate a room full of clerics when she assured them of having a word about the sword wielding, scale bearing Banglicised Lady Justice. But the mullahs then demanded removal of all statues. That would include all statues and sculptures like Aparajeyo Bangla, Raju Bhashkorjo, and the hundreds of busts of the prime minister’s father, not to mention the millions of idols of deities that are worshipped around the country. This is a perfect example of why one should not relent to communal pressures, no matter how insignificant they might seem. And as regards the debate of whether it is an idol or a statue, it is pointless. Those saying it is not an idol but a sculpture are treading a very dangerous path. Even agreeing to take up such a line of argument would suggest one is worse or better than the other. There is the suggestion that perhaps it would have been OK for the clerics to make the demand if this were an idol that people worship. It is not. So what if this is the Roman goddess of justice? It is this concept of justice being blindfolded that we have embraced. Bengali, Buddhist, agnostic, bigot or buffoon, Lady Justice doesn’t see the difference. She has her scales to test the strength of one’s argument and evidence against another, and she has her sword to deliver swift justice. Removal of the statue of Lady Justice now, will threaten the idols and statues everywhere forever.
Also Read- PM: Lady Justice to move to another spot inside SC
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