Newly-appointed State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan made the statement while talking to journalists
Newly-appointed State Minister for Religious Affairs Md Faridul Haque Khan on Sunday said sculptures and idols are not the same, but a misunderstanding is ongoing over the issue.
While speaking to journalists on his first day in office at the ministry, Haque tried to draw a distinction between idols and sculptures amid protests by Islamist groups in Bangladesh.
Islamist groups are protesting in Bangladesh over the construction of a statue of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh spoke against setting up the sculpture of father of the nation, and other quarters are demanding action against the Islamist groups for such remarks.
Hefazat leader Mamunul Mamunul Haque again on Sunday reiterated that if he has the power, he would remove all sculptures in the country.
Responding to journalist’s queries, Haque said: “Sculptures and idols are not the same. You go to Pakistan, India, or any other state in the world and you will find sculptures.”
Pointing out that photos of Bangabandhu and previous leaders are used on currency, he said money would not be used or carried by people if it were construed as idols .
The state minister said it is a misunderstanding and those who are discussing this have to understand that the two are not the same.
He also expected that a solution will come if people can understand the difference.
The state minister said he is new to the ministry and will discuss issues, expecting everyone’s cooperation to move forward.
Haque said everyone will be able to maintain their practices regardless of their religion.
“We all know that some evil people remain in every community, who try to destabilize communal harmony to realize their own interests,” he said.
When journalists brought the new state minister’s attention to those campaigning against statues, Haque said he will sit with all concerned and hold discussions.
“You have already heard the speech of Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader in this regard,” he said.
On Saturday, leaders and activists of Muktijuddho Mancha demanded the arrest of leaders of the Islamist platforms - Joint Secretary General of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh Mawlana Mamunul Haque and senior Nayeb-e-Ameer of Islami Andolan Bangladesh Faizul Karim - for opposing the construction of the sculpture of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.
On Friday, Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh chief Junaid Babunagari threatened to tear down all statues in the country.
Mamunul again vows to remove all sculptures
Meanwhile, Hefazat-e-Islam Joint Secretary General Maulana Mamunul Haque said he will take steps for the removal of all sculptures when he can afford the authority legally, morally,, politically, and from the state.
“Our stance is against sculptures, not anyway against Bangabandhu,” he told a press conference organized at the Khelafat-E-Majlish office in Dhaka on Sunday.
Mamunul said he does respect Bangbandhu, but he will continue his fight within his capacity if the state supports the establishment of sculptures.
But the leader however said he will not engage in any war against the state.
“I will not take any step that can disrupt the security of lives and properties,” he told the press conference.
Responding to a query, Islamist leader Mamunul said he never made any comment on sculpture of Bangabandhu, but he said keeping any sculptures will not be wise in terms of ideological perspective.
Program cancelled over remarks
Although Babunagari held an event on Friday, Hefazat-e-Islam leader Maulana Mamunul Haque had to cancel his scheduled program on the same day at Hathazari Madrasa in Chittagong, in the face of agitation by Bangladesh Chhatra League in the area.
Mamunul has recently gained notoriety for insulting Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman by opposing the construction of his sculptures across the country.
Leaders and activists of the Chhatra League have announced that they would bar Mamunul from attending the religious program in Hathazari upazila of Chittagong – leading to Mamunul skipping the event.
Awami League General Secretary Obaidul Quader on Saturday said a communal force is creating unwarranted debate over constructing sculptures of Bangabandhu.
Quader said a religious fundamentalist group is misinterpreting facts to spread hatred among religious people.
"Do not take the government's liberalism as weakness. Any comments against the spirit of the country's Liberation War and constitution will not be tolerated. Any evil attempt to destroy the people's peace and comfort will be resisted," he said.