Bangladeshi authorities have dismantled a statue of a woman meant to personify Lady Justice outside the country’s Supreme Court amid objections from Islamic hard-liners. After the statue was the subject of protests by the Islamic organization Hefazat-e-Islam last month, workers quietly removed the statue on Friday. The group had argued that the statue encouraged idol worship, which is prohibited in Islam. Mrinal Haque, the Bangladeshi sculptor behind the statue, told The New York Times he was ordered by the Supreme Court to get rid of it only five months after erecting it. Haque called the decision “an alarming signal for our country” and warned that it would lead to a wider crackdown on art from Islamist groups. Mujibur Rahman Hamidi, the joint secretary of Hefazat’s branch in Dhaka, has already called for statues throughout the country to be removed. “No sculpture can be on the roadside or outside the temple,” he told The New York Times. “If anyone wants to build any statue outside a temple in the future, the Muslims of Bangladesh will prevent it,” he said. Since the group’s rise to prominence in 2013, Hefazat has also demanded a “ban on foreign culture, including free mixing of men and women,” the separation of boys and girls in schools and the death penalty for anyone guilty of blaspheming Islam or the prophet Muhammad.
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