Sculptures Removed from Bangladesh Airport After Muslim Protests
October 16, 2008
DHAKA, Bangladesh—Authorities in Bangladesh were forced to remove new sculptures installed at the international airport in the capital, Dhaka, after protests by Muslims threatening to destroy them, Agence France-Presse reports.
The five statues of local folk singers were created by Mrinal Haq, the country’s best-known sculptor, for a government commission meant to enliven the dull Zia International airport. But thousands of Muslims came out to protest the sculptures, calling them idols and threatening to attack them with power tools.
“They formed an idol resistance committee and threatened the workers. They also set a three-day ultimatum to remove the sculptures,” said Sirahul Islam, the airport’s police chief.
According to Haq, the installation of the sculptures became one of his most dangerous projects: “They became so hostile that it became increasingly dangerous and risky to work there,” he said. “I agreed to remove them as I did not want to see any clashes.”
He added, “I’ve done a lot of works, including the city’s largest sculpture. But never have I faced such bigotry.”
The folk singer statues will replaced by a fountain, Islam said.
Removal of sculptures sparks protests
Staff Correspondent, http://www.thedailystar.net, Friday, October 17, 2008
Various political and socio-cultural organisations yesterday condemned the removal of the five sculptures of bauls (folk singers) in front of the Zia International Airport (ZIA).
They urged the people to launch movement against the fundamentalists who are posing threats to Bengali culture and heritage.
Meanwhile, Bimanbandar Golchattar Murti Protirodh Committee that forced the authorities concerned to remove the sculptures said the government has to begin the task of erecting a hajj minar by October 23 in place of the sculptures removed on Wednesday.
They also demanded removal of Mahbub Jamil, special assistant to the chief adviser, for taking initiative to erect the sculptures.
Committee Chairman Mufti Nur Hossain Nurani, also the chairman of Khatme Nabuwat Andolon, at a press conference at a city restaurant said if the government fails to meet their demands they would hold a grand rally at the north gate of the hajj camp on October 24.
The Roads and Highways Department (RHD) and Civil Aviation Authority of Bangladesh (CAAB) were forced to remove the five sculptures in the face of protests of the Murti Protirodh Committee on Wednesday.
“We will not accept anything but a hajj minar at that place and its design must be finalised upon our consent,” said Mufti Nur Hossain.
He said all khatibs across the country will bring out processions from mosques today demanding punishment of those who took the initiative to erect the sculptures in front of ZIA.
Sculptor Mrinal Haque said the task of erecting the sculptures began about three and a half months back.
Almost 50 percent work of the project had been finished at a cost of Tk 50 lakh, said Mrinal, who was supposed to sign an agreement with United Commercial Bank Ltd on Wednesday for getting funds.
A CAAB official said they removed the five sculptures of bauls holding ektara on instructions of the ministry concerned.
Ain O Salish Kendra in a statement expressed concern over the removal of the sculptures and said such incidents raise questions about the present government’s commitment to protecting Bengali culture, upholding non-communal spirit and democratic values.
Workers Party of Bangladesh President Rashed Khan Menon and its General Secretary Bimal Biswas in a joint statement also condemned the removal of the sculptures.
They said the present caretaker government has compromised with the fundamentalists on various issues but the people will thwart all attacks on the Bengali culture.
Bangladesh Udichi Shilpi Gosthi, Charan Sangskritik Kendra, Jaybangla Sangskritik Oikya Jote and Bangladesh Students’ Union also condemned the incident.