Radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam has rejected the idea of covering the Lady Justice statue erected on the Supreme Court premises during prayer times, calling the idea “ridiculous.”
“Covering the statue or not covering it is the same thing,” Hefazat Secretary General Junaid Babunagari said in a statement, renewing their demand to install a replica of the Qur’an instead.
Jamaat-e-Islami made the same demand after the prime minister said that suggested that it be covered during prayers at the adjacent National Eidgah.
In the statement issued Wednesday, Babunagari argued that a Greek goddess had nothing in common with Bangladesh's culture and heritage, and hoped that the prime minister would understand the pulse of the people and remove it.
Hefazat chief Shafi had claimed that “ideological aggression” was going on against Islam and Bangladesh’s Muslims “in the name of secularism.”
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Islami Andolon Bangladesh chief Mufti Rezaul Karim, better known as Charmonai Pir, had previously warned of bloodshed if the sculpture was not removed.
Hardline Islamist groups have been seeking the statue's removal for several months now. Hefazat, who dubbed the statue an “anti-Islamic idol,” approached the prime minister and the chief justice with their demand on February 14.
A group of religious scholars, including Hefazat chief Shah Ahmad Shafi, raised the demand at a meeting with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina at the Ganabhaban on April 11. Hasina agreed to the demand partially on that day, saying she did not like the Greek statue.
The premier later said that the statue should be shifted to a different spot inside the court premises, and hoped that the chief justice would consider the matter. Several ministers and senior Awami League leaders also told the media that the chief justice was the person to take the decision.
Soon after the prime minister’s comments, leaders of Hefazat and other Islamist parties that eye Shariah law in the country started demanding removal of all statues of living beings across the country. Even al-Qaeda’s Bangladesh supported Hefazat on the issue.
On October 15, 2008, Islamists knocked down the statue of Lalon Shah being erected in front of the Dhaka airport, and damaged the Balaka (crane) statue in Dilkusha area on November 29 the same year.