Dhaka: Bangladesh on Sunday reinstalled the statue of a Greek Goddess clad in a saree, taken down from the front of the Supreme Court after religious hardliners deemed it “un-Islamic”, to a different location within the premises.
The sculpture of Themis – the goddess of justice – had been in place for less than six months when it was removed on Friday after Islamist groups claimed it hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.
Sculptor Mrinal Haque, who engraved the statue, supervised the reinstallation process. The reinstallation work began yesterday and was completed today with the help of around 30 workers.
Hifazat-e Islam, Olama League and several other Islamist organisations have been demanding the removal of the statue.
Radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam had targeted the statue since its erection in December, saying it did not reflect the Islamic culture of the Muslims in Bangladesh, The Dhaka Tribune reported.
Just a day after being removed from in front of the Supreme Court, the statue of Lady Justice was reinstalled today before the annex building of the apex court, Haque said.
“I wasn’t given any clarification but was only ordered to relocate it,” he had said.
The statue was erected in December 2016, holding a sword and the scales of justice in her hands.
The statue, which is not of the Greek goddess but a Bengali woman, has ruffled feathers in the Muslim-majority nation, with hardliners staging massive protests in recent months.
According to the hardliners, the statue, a variation on the Greek goddess Themis, goes against Islam, the report had said.
Police had used tear gas and water cannons as protests mounted after authorities removed the statue from the Supreme Court premises.
Scores of slogan chanting protestors rallied near the apex court complex where police hurled tear gas canisters and coloured water from water cannons to disperse them the report said.
In April, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who leads the secular Awami League party, apparently backed the Islamists by expressing her dislike for the statue and approved its removal.
In reaction to criticism over her approval, Hasina said she had asked Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha why the statue of a Greek goddess had been distorted by having it clad in a saree, the report said.
“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 had inquired.
Bangladesh has experienced increasing tensions between hardliners and secularists in recent years, suffering a spate of killings of atheist bloggers, religious minorities and foreign.