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High Court directs Bangladesh govt to ensure security cover to all Mujib statues

Following the vandalisation of an unfinished statue of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, which shocked Bangladesh, the High Court has ordered the government to ensure protection of all sculptures of the Father of the Nation across the country.

On Sunday, a writ petition was filed on the issue highlighting the urgent need to protect all sculptures of Mujib, as he was endearingly referred. The writ petition said, “Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman brought us freedom. He is the symbol of liberation. His sculptures must not remain unprotected.”

Amid celebrations marking the birth centenary year of Bangabandhu as “Mujib Barsho,” the hydra-headed fundamentalist problem is once again emerging as a challenge for Mujib’s daughter and Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, who has repeatedly underlined the need to uphold secular principles in the country.

While the extremist Hefazat-eIslam group has been opposing the construction of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman’s statue saying it is anti-Islam, in a shocking incident on Saturday, a few miscreants vandalised an unfinished sculpture of the country’s founding father. The incident took place in Kushtia district after which, a large number of people from across the country along with members of the ruling Awami League, came out to form human chains in protest of the incident.

“The country is celebrating the birth centenary of the Father of the Nation and the golden jubilee of great independence by uniting in the spirit of 1971. Bangladesh will not lose its way due to the noise of any communal evil power,” Bangladesh Live News quoted Jatiya Party co-chairman and MP Syed Abul Hossain as saying.

Though Islam is the state religion in Bangladesh, the word 'secularism' is embedded in its constitution. Mujib, who founded Bangladesh in 1971 after a long and arduous struggle, strongly propagated secularism. The country remained a "secular" without any state religion till 1988.

In the recently released Global Terrorism Index by the Sydney-based Institute for Economics and Peace (IEP), the country ranked 33rd out of a total of 163 countries. Even as Bangladesh grabbed the 30th slot in in 2019 and 25th a year earlier, it has so far managed to contain the tide of Islamic terrorism that was threatening the nation of over 161 million in the first decade of the 21st century.

<strong>Hefazat-e-Islam—who are they?</strong>

“As an organization, the Hefazat-e-Islam is known to highlight issues pertaining to the Islamic ‘Shariah’ law and has continued to take up issues that have a direct relation to the Muslim-majority in Bangladesh,” a study by Grid91, an organisation dealing with security consultancy, providing solutions to businesses in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka noted.

Recently, it elected Juanayed Babunagari as its new chief.

The radical Islamist outfit, with Madrassa trained members, was formed just 10 years ago but it sprung into prominence in 2013 when it staged mass demonstrations demanding that Bangladesh adhere to a strict Islamic doctrine. “The Islamist organization has a track record of training Imams, who are then funded to propagate their ideals in the Middle-east, the United Kingdom, United States and other parts of the world,” the study added.

According to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom religious groups, such as Hefazat-e-Islam, have continued to exert pressure on the Bangladeshi government for policy changes, most notably in the country’s educational curricula and ensuring that religious minorities are edited out of Ministry of Education-approved textbooks.

More recently, the organisation even organised a march to register its protest against the comments of French President Emmanuel Macron following the brutal killings over the issue of Prophet Muhammad's cartoon in France..