Bangladeshi Muslim hardliners seek removal of Justice statue

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) " Thousands of people marched in Bangladesh's capital on Friday to demand a Lady Justice statue be removed from the Supreme Court complex.

The statue of a woman holding a scale and sword in her hands was installed in December outside the court building. The sculpture is wrapped in a sari, a Bangladeshi revision of the usual representation, the Greek goddess Themis blindfolded and clad in a gown.

Islamists oppose idol worship and consider the Lady Justice statue anti-Islamic.

Supporters and sympathizers of the hardline Hefazat-e-Islam group joined the protest in Dhaka's Baitul Mokarram mosque after Friday's weekly prayer.

A mass movement across the country would occur if Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina's government did not meet the protesters' demand immediately, said Junaid Al Habib, a leader of the Hefazat-e-Islam.

"Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority country, its 92 percent people are Muslims, we cannot accept any idol in front of the Supreme Court," he said.

In 2008, protests led to the removal of a statue of a Bangladeshi mystic poet at a road crossing near Dhaka's international airport.

The country of 160 million people is ruled by secular laws, but radical Islam has been rising.

In recent years dozens of atheists, liberal writers, bloggers and publishers and members of minority communities and foreigners have been targeted and killed.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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