From the Editor-in-Chief: Deal with the bigots firmly

Enayetullah Khan
Wednesday, May 31st, 2017
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It is time for the controversy over the Lady Justice statue to be brought to an end. In these past many weeks, much of the country has been in a state of uproar in light of the religious hardliners’ demand for the statue, erected before the Supreme Court, to be removed as it violated, in their opinion, Islamic norms. One wishes the government had been firm in dealing with such elements and not gone along with their demand, a position that predictably led to widespread outrage across the country.

 

The authorities have now reinstalled the statue before the annexe of the Supreme Court, which is something, but not fully satisfactory, of a solution. Even so, we believe the matter should finally rest and we expect that nothing is done that will any more allow issues of this nature to stir up fresh controversies in the country. But even as we say this, we note with concern and justified indignation the manner in which the fanatics have been carrying themselves over the statue issue, particularly their new demand that all other statues in the country should be pulled down. That is a direct assault on our historical Bengali ethos and should be dealt with firmly by the government. We note too that the bigots have demanded the removal of Chief Justice Surendra Kumar Sinha and Culture Minister Asaduzzaman Noor. It is behaviour that is surely not to be treated lightly, for it shows clearly that these bigots, having tasted blood, are baying for more.

 

In the prevailing circumstances, the government led by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina needs to go for a reaffirmation of faith in the core principles of the War of Liberation. Already there are the loud voices around us proclaiming their belief that the government, by appeasing the fanatics, has turned its back on secular principles. For the government, therefore, it is important that a clear and firm stand be taken to keep the bigots in check and indeed push them back into a corner. This country, having earned its freedom through the egalitarian, secular politics of Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman and his associates, must not succumb to the forces of darkness.

 

These are not very happy times we live in. It is not only the government but also the nation that is confronted with threats which militate against our heritage. It is for all of us — and the leadership should come from the government — to guard against such threats and indeed beat them off decisively and for all time. This country and its people must not be taken lightly.

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