Bangladesh

A Slippery Slope

May 27, 2017
Indeed, it is likely that this will be seen as a great victory by the fundamentalists
 
So it has finally happened: The statue of Lady Justice has been removed from the Supreme Court premises. The statue has been laden with controversy of late, as Hefazat-e-Islam declared that structure was against Islamic values, and have been agitating for its removal for some time.
 
Taking into account that the holy month of Ramadan is just around the corner, and the looming threat of violence surrounding this issue, we can appreciate how this was an extraordinarily thorny dilemma for the government. Neither can we forget the horrific terror attack at Holey Artisan Bakery last year — that also happened during Ramadan. Given the apparent uptick in terrorist activity that recent militant arrests and busts suggest, the government’s caution on hot button issues is understandable.
 
Thus, if the authorities have determined that the wisest course of action for the sake of public safety and harmony is to remove the statue from the Supreme Court premises, we cannot simply condemn them out of hand. This was undoubtedly a tough decision, and we have no doubt it was made in good conscience with the best of intentions. However, be that as it may, we fear that it might be the first step on a slippery slope to cave in to demands such as these.
 
While the government’s motives can be sympathised with, and their actions understood, on balance, we feel this was a mistake, with the nation standing to lose more in the long run than we can possibly gain in the short from the decision. The concern is that giving in to pressure from fundamentalists will only embolden them further. Not only that, if the government is to make concessions, then it must receive something in return. That is elementary statecraft.
 
It is unclear what, if anything, the government will get in return for this concession. Indeed, it is likely that this will be seen as a great victory by the fundamentalists, who will now only demand more and more, and continue to put further pressure on the government for anything and everything they do not agree with. Appeasing groups that use fear rather than reason is a dangerous road to take. Where do we go from here?
 
Dhaka Tribune, May 27, 2017

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