The propaganda spearheaded by the fundamentalist parties of Bangladesh about art and sculptures is totally misperceived and fallacious. These religious maniacs have repeatedly told that no sculptures or statues are allowed in Muslim majority states. This is an absolutely wrong propagation. Artistry, cultural heritage and religious ideologies never contradict with each other. Greek, Roman and Muslim civilizations flourished through their cultural glory and thus they elevated themselves with the passage of time.
Statue of Iranian poet Afzal Uddin Badil on the premises of Blue Mosque in Tabriz city of Iran
It should be noted that sculptures of heroes, statesmen, sages, poets and rulers still exist in several Muslim countries across the world like Islamic Republic of Iran, Iraq, United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Albania, Lebanon and so on. Some of those sculptures are located in front of mosques in those Muslim states. But we have not heard of agitations by political parties of those countries for removing these sculptures. Sculptures, paintings and statues are marks of progress and illumination without which a nation's artistic and traditional worth cannot be evaluated.
Sculpture of Albanian warrior Sikander Begh in front of Ethem Bey Mosque, Tirana, Albania
This is evidence that religious norms have no conflict with art and creative works. Moreover, the Holy Quran says, "La kum deen ukum waliya deen" which means each person is allowed to follow his or her respective religion. Islam does not authorize enforcing people to abide by religious regulations.
Martyrs Monument in front of Mohammad Al Amin Mosque, Beirut, Lebanon
However, the radical parties who demonstrated against the sculpture of Lady Justice in Bangladesh don't care about the value of such visions. We must remember parties with such archaic views opposed us during the Liberation War of 1971 and now the same radical outfits have raised their gruesome heads to imperil our independence and sovereignty by forcibly imposing religious fanaticism on our society and intercepting our state mechanism.
Statue of Kamal Pasha on the premises of Aladdin Mosque in Anatolia, Turkey
The removal of the sculpture of Lady Justice from Supreme Court premises has shocked all progressive people, artists, authors and intellectuals of Bangladesh though it has been reinstalled in front of the apex court's annex building. A bunch of so-called Islamic parties headed by Hefazat-E-Islam compelled the government to dismantle this sculpture. Those Islamic parties are now asking the government to do away with all other statues and sculptures from the entire country.
Statues adjacent to Amir Chakhmaq Mosque in Yazd province, Iran
This is a vivid threat to the cultural heritage and artistic legacy of this land which we have preserved for hundreds of years. The sculptures, murals, paintings and statues in Bangladesh speak of our glorious past, our Liberation War, Language Movement, our traditional festivities, independence and selfhood. So, those who have been raising demands to evict these sculptures and artworks are opponents of our national values and secular standpoint. These radical parties are responsible for the rise of religious extremism and militancy in Bangladesh.
Sculpture of Ibrahim Pasha at the main entrance of Mohammad Ali Mosque in Cairo, Egypt
It's astonishing for us to see that the present government which upholds the spirit of 1971 and believes in communal harmony has apparently complied with the demands of religious bigots. If these anti-liberation platforms are allowed to further rise, the country will lose its status as a peace-loving nation and may turn into a sanctuary for fanatic outfits. We have already witnessed the ominous, subversive activities by militants in different parts of Bangladesh including capital Dhaka. Radical parties utilize religious issues as political weapons and thus jeopardize communal fraternity and obstruct peaceful atmosphere. These parties are against the advancement of Bangladesh too.
Statues featuring a man and a woman located close to Burj Al Khalifa Tower in Dubai, United Arab Emirates
They want to push the country back to medieval ages terminating the intellectual and creative enlightenment of the nation. The extremist Islamic parties' antagonism towards the sculpture of Lady Justice is an exposure of their ignorance about symbols and emblems signifying history, philosophy and knowledge. These parties blatantly opposed the celebrations of Pahela Baishakh too. Moreover, Pahela Baishakh murals were defaced in Chittagong. Statues were smashed in Fine Arts Faculty of Rajshahi University. Our cultural sanctity would be in dire trouble if these religious hardliners are pampered by the government.
Sculpture "Joy of Life" in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Hefazat-E-Islam is a violent political party which committed countrywide arson, bomb attacks, rampage and other forms of turbulence destabilizing law and order a few years ago. Glancing back at those fearsome days, the current demonstrations by Hefazat-E-Islam have once again terrified us. The speeches made by the leaders of Hefazat-E-Islam are a brazen display of religious blindness which is why such things can instigate fanatic troublemakers to endanger the country's security. Hefazat-E-Islam deplores manmade laws. Rather this party wants to clamp down religious laws to run the state. We have been already suffering from the advent of militancy. On top that, the scary expostulations from the clerics of Hefazat-E-Islam have broadened our worries.
Treaty of Lausanne Monument in Anatolia, Turkey
People who staunchly support Hefazat-E-Islam are mostly from Qwaumi madrassas. Pupils of these madrassas have very insufficient knowledge on current affairs, modern issues, art, literature, science and technology. For this reason, these students from Qwaumi madrassas bitterly oppose the spread of liberal thoughts, scientific innovations and women's advancement in society. These people are a clear threat to the safety of secular artists, authors, scholars and poets. We also remember with panic and remorse that several bloggers were hacked to death by religious extremists during last few years. Fanatic religious outfits may imperil regional peace and stability by aiding cross-border extremist organizations too.
All people of Bangladesh should now come up with consolidated enthusiasm and firm determination to raise their voices against religious fundamentalists and anti-heritage quarters for the sake of safeguarding our cultural assets from onslaught by fanatic gangs. -AA