A talk show titled 'Jonotontro Gonotontro' on the private news channel News 24 picked up the issue of relocation of the Lady Justice sculpture on the Supreme Court premises last week.
The show invited rights activist Sultana Kamal, Awami League MP Apu Ukil, Garanajagaran Mancha spoeksperson Imran H Sarker and Hefazat-e-Islam representative Mufti Sakhawat Hossain to speak.
Early in the show, Mufti Shakhawat said: “Some say it is a sculpture, some say idol. I say it is an idol. It is the Greek god of justice. It is as clear as daylight that this is an idol of Themis.
“The prime minister has also said that this is a Themis idol. Themis is a Greek goddess. They worship it. No Muslim can accept that this idol has been erected here.”
In reply, Sultana Kamal said: “The way I see it he is confusing several things. An idol is something that people in the Hindu faith worship.
“...What he says about Islam is a hundred percent true. Muslims will follow their own faith. Nobody has said that anyone will have to worship this sculpture or call it an idol and perform some sort of ritual.
“What was placed there was a symbol of justice for people to see. There is no harm if it is not there. There is no requirement that it has to be there.
“What we said is that the way it was moved, in the name of religion, using the name of religion, that is against the core spirit of the Liberation War. Bangladesh is home not only to Muslims but also to people of other faiths and ethnicities.
“The Themis idol has no relationship with religion.”
Mufti Shakhawat, in turn, remarked: “Erecting an idol here was an act against the spirit of the Liberation War.”
Sultana Kamal said: “My question is even if it is an idol, what is wrong with having it there? Muslims do not have to worship it.”
Shakhawat replied: “Yes, there is a problem. The spirit of the Liberation War is free of communalism.”
“Does that mean nothing [religious] will stay?” she asked.
Shakhawat replied: “Everything will stay.”
Sultana said: “Then mosques should not stay either.”
Shakhawat said: “This idol is communal. It cannot stay in an important place like the court.”
Sultana said: “Of course it can. There is an Eidgah there. If the mosque can be there, why cannot the idol be there?”
Shakhawat said: “The mosque will stay, Muslims will pray there, Hindus will do their worship in their own way. Islam is clear on this, it will not tolerate attack on any religion.”
In follow-up to this show, Hefazat's Vice-President Junayed Al-Habib claimed Sultana Kamal had said “if the statue is not in the country then mosques should not be in the country” and demanded her arrest within 24 hours.