05/26/2017, 10.16
BANGLADESH
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Dhaka removes statue of Justice. Catholics worried about the fate of Christian statues

by Sumon Corraya

The sculpture of the Lady of Justice was considered pagan and bearer of secular values. She was facing the supreme court. The statute had drawn criticism from radical Islamic groups and terrorists. University students contest the removal.

Dhaka (AsiaNews) - After months of protests, in the dead of the night, the statue of Themis, the Greek goddess of Justice, who was standing in front of Dhaka's Supreme Court, was removed.

The Lady of Justice statue was erected last December 2016 and had attracted the protests of Islamic radicals as "offensive to Islam". The sculpture - a robed woman, holding scales and dressed in the traditional Bengali Sari - was considered pagan and the personification of secular values.

Some Catholics have expressed concern to AsiaNews over the Court's decision, which has ceded to the demands of extremists, including some well-known parties affiliated with international terrorism. "If the government gives up on Islamist questions - it is their fear - the next sculptures to be removed will be those within Catholic churches."

Removal operations started around 9pm last night (local time) and continued until early dawn. The statue was lifted with a crane, then carried off by a van. Throughout the duration of the operation, the area was excluded from the transit and the curious kept away.

In the night, some fifty students of the capital's university protested against the removal of the monument and challenged the attitude of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who for the first time expressed his opposition to the installation of the statue. According to John Tripura, Catholic, "it is very alarming to remove the symbol of justice". Nirmol Roy, Hindu, believes the move is just "an attempt by the government to win votes in the upcoming general elections."

The terrorist group Ansar al-Islam, al-Qaeda affiliate in the Indian subcontinent, and the radical groups, Islami Oikya Jote, Awami Olama League and Islami Andolon Bangladesh had campaigned against the statue. A Catholic journalist, anonymous for security reasons, speaks of their alarm: "Islamic radicals wanted to remove the monument, and the government has contented them. This country does what Islamists want. But one day it will pay dearly for supporting extremists. " "The day that the government will agree to remove all religious symbols in churches is not far away," they conclude pessimistically.

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