Hasina slams critics of bid to remove statue from Supreme Court premises

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has come down hard on critics who have taken issue with her on the statue of Lady Justice at the Supreme Court premises. She has asked why the statue should not be removed.

Senior Correspondentbdnews24.com
Published : 24 April 2017, 09:24 PM
Updated : 24 April 2017, 09:24 PM

Defending her view, she has said the statue is half Greek and half Bengali, and that it will be in full view of Muslims as they offer prayers at the National Eidgah.

Sheikh Hasina has been facing criticism since Apr 11, when she concurred with the demand by radical Islamists that the statue should be removed. She expressed her opinion at a meeting with Qawmi madrasa representatives.

On Monday, during a meeting of the ruling Awami League's local government election nomination board at  Ganabhaban, party chief Sheikh Hasina said, "Some are screaming why (the statue) will have to be removed.

"Why shouldn't it be removed? Don't they see that it is no more Greek. It's half Greek, half Bengali. It's Greek-Bengali now. Don't they see it?" she asked.

Religious hardliners say the figure, a variation on the Greek goddess Themis but in a sari, goes against Islam.

According to them, the statue erected in December 2016, holding the familiar sword and scales of justice in her hands, amounts to idolatry.

Hifazat-e Islam, Olama League and several other Islamist organisations have been demanding the removal of the statue.

Hifazat chief Shah Ahmed Shafi led the Qawmi madrasa representatives at the Ganabhaban meeting, where the prime minister approved their demand over the statue.

On Monday, she also criticised Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha for setting up the statue.

"I didn't tell the chief justice anything publicly. I told him when I met him that it (setting up the statue) had not been right," she said. 

"The chief justice should have consulted everyone before doing this. He should also have checked the place where it would be erected," Hasina said.

She said she had asked the chief justice why the statue of a Greek goddess had been distorted through having it clad in a sari.

The prime minister also brought up the issue of the statue's location.

"(It's alright) as it has already been set up. But the problem is - Eidgah, where Eid congregations are held. Not everyone's mind is the same. It will be in view during prayers," she said.

"It will be removed or blocked from sight," she added

Responding to criticism of her government’s decision to bring the highest Qawmi madrasa degree at par with degrees at the university level, she asked, "Shall we not bring the Qawmi madrasa students into the mainstream?"

She said, "Whatever curriculum they study, it is our duty to ensure that they get the opportunity to earn their livelihood. We'll have to preserve their rights...Aren't they citizens of the country?"     

As many as 1.4 million students study in the 75,000 Qawmi madrasas across Bangladesh annually.

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