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Bangladesh: Tipping Farther Toward Fundamentalist Islam?
by Ruthie Blum - Gatestone Institute
*As soon as the statue of "Lady Justice," blindfolded and holding a scale, was erected in the Bangladeshi capital, fundamentalist groups began to protest, on the grounds that the piece of art was "un-Islamic" and constituted idol-worship.
*Since 2013, dozens of people have been slaughtered, many with machetes. Although ISIS claimed responsibility for many of the brutal killings, no formal investigation into the murders was ever launched.
*Instead, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina took the opportunity to arrest more than 11,000 people, only 145 of whom were Islamist terrorists. The rest were charged with crimes such as theft and drug-dealing, indicating that it might have been part of Hasina's crackdown on critics since her election in 2008.
The arrest on May 26 of 140 secular activists in Bangladesh is the latest in a string of incidents indicating a disturbing shift towards Islamic fundamentalism in the East Asian parliamentary democracy.
The activists were rounded up by police during a demonstration against the government's removal of a statue outside the Supreme Court building in the capital city, Dhaka. They were charged not only with holding an illegal gathering and obstructing justice, but with the attempted murder of the law enforcement agents dispatched to quell the protest.
The statue was a depiction of "Lady Justice" -- the Greek goddess Themis (and Roman Justitia), blindfolded and holding a scale -- this one wearing a sari. As soon as the iconic, universal symbol of jurisprudence was erected last December in the Bangladeshi capital, fundamentalist groups began to protest, on the grounds that the piece of art was "un-Islamic" and constituted idol-worship.