Millennium Post

Lady Justice reinstalled

In a strange sequence of events, Bangladesh officials reinstalled the controversial Lady Justice statue at another part of the country's Supreme Court premises after major protests by secular groups. In the past, various hardline Islamic groups had protested against the sculpture. For the uninitiated, the sculpture outlines the Greek goddess of justice, Themis, holding the scales of justice in one hand and a sword in the other, donning a sari.

Last week, the statue was removed amidst pressure from radical Islamists who believe that the sculpture goes against Islamic tenets on the subject of idol worship. In the past, even Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has criticised the installation of this sculpture, asking why the statue of a Greek goddess was set up in Bangladesh.

"The Greeks had a certain type of costume, but here a statue has been built, and it is wearing a sari," she said. "It is a funny incident. I don't know why such an incident happened." In the grand scheme of things, this entire episode seems like a non-issue, but there is a context that one must understand to why it has blown up. Since its inception as an independent country, critics argue that Bangladesh has traversed on an uneasy path between its secular ethos and the Islamic doctrine professed by its majority. The Awami League, led by Sheikh Hasina, declares itself to be a secular party that seeks to protect the rights of minorities. But it has also been accused of appeasing to sections of the radical Muslim community, much to the dismay of liberals, atheists and religious minorities. At stake here is the secular character that many Bangladeshis seek to espouse. Critics contend that Hasina's comments are an indirect attempt at not alienating religious hardliners and conservative rural voters ahead of polls in 2018.

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