12/07/2020, 14.11
BANGLADESH
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Islamist students and teachers arrested for vandalising a statue of Mujibur Rahman (VIDEO)

by Sumon Corraya

The students damaged the statue, whilst the teachers covered their escape. Islamists fear the political impact of "Mujib Borsho" (the year of Mujib) celebrations, marking the first centennial of the birth of the nation's founder. "Bangladesh is non-communal state,” one observer said.

 

Kushtia (AsiaNews) – Police arrested two students and two teachers (picture 1) at a madrasa (Islamic school) in Jugia, Kushtia district, for damaging a statue of the Father of the Nation Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

Thanks to security camera video, police identified the two 14-year-old students. Both were arrested yesterday and confessed. At 5 am on Saturday, they climbed the scaffolding around the statue and damaged the face and an arm.

The two teachers, Alamin, 33, and Yusuf, 38, were arrested for helping the students escape after their act of vandalism.

All of them admitted that they were influenced by statements made by Maulana Mamunul Haque and Maulana Faizul Haque, leaders of the Hefazat-e-Islam pressure group (picture 2).

Since August, the group and other radical Islamic organisations have campaigned against the statues of Mujibur Rahman, which the government wants to install in several cities to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of the nation's leader.

Mujibur Rahman (1920-1975), founder of modern Bangladesh, is also the father of the current Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina, of the Awami League (AL) party. Islamists fear that "Mujib Borsho" (the year of Mujib) is a way to increase support for the AL.

For other politicians, celebrating the Father of the Nation, popularly known as Bangabandhu (Friend of Bengal), can only boost national unity, whatever group or religion people may belong to.

“Vandalism of Bangabandhu’s sculpture is a severe offence that cannot be pardoned in any way,” said Obaidul Quader, Awami League General Secretary and Road Transport and Bridges Minister.

“Those who were involved in the incident would be exposed to stern punitive actions,” he added, noting that the government “will not spare” any derogatory comments, speeches and actions that are contrary to the country's constitution and laws.

Meanwhile, a sedition complaint was filed today against Hefazat-e-Islam leader Junaid Babunagari, its joint general secretary Mamunul Haque and others for their negative comments about the statues dedicated to Mujibur.

Various groups have come out against Islamist iconoclasm. Nirmol Rozario, president of Bangladesh Hindu Buddha Christian Unity, said: “Bangladesh is a non-communal country. Our country will be run by Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s ideal. We condemn those who are protesting against the sculptures of the Father of the Nation.”

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