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Thursday, 21 March, 2002, 18:33 GMT
Bangladesh scraps portrait law
A portrait of Sheikh Mujib
The Awami League reveres Sheikh Mujibur Rahman
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By the BBC's Moazzem Hossain in Dhaka
line
Bangladesh has scrapped a law that made it compulsory to display a portrait of the country's independence leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, in all government offices.

The law was enacted by the previous government of the Awami League.

The party reveres Sheikh Mujib as the father of the nation - a view not shared by the four-party coalition in power at present.

Sheikh Mujib's daughter, Sheikh Hasina, who leads the Awami League, has threatened a mass resignation of her party's MPs from the parliament over the issue.

Sheikh Mujib's place in Bangladesh's history has been a bitterly debated issue since his assassination in 1975.

Controversy

While the Awami League credits Sheikh Mujib with the creation of Bangladesh, the rival Bangladesh Nationalist Party says its founder - the late President Ziaur Rahman - was the key man behind the country's independence.

Protestors carrying Sheikh Mujib's portrait
Sheikh Mujib's place in history is hotly debated

Ziaur Rahman's widow, Prime Minister Khaleda Zia, whose party won the general elections in October last year, introduced a bill seeking to remove Sheikh Mujib's portraits from government offices.

The bill was passed by the parliament on Thursday.

The outcome infuriated Awami League members who made noisy protests and threatened to launch a countrywide agitation.

Political observers say the passage of the bill has stoked the controversy over Sheikh Mujib's role in the country's history.

See also:

30 Apr 01 | South Asia
Death penalty for Mujib assassins
14 Dec 00 | South Asia
Split verdict in coup trial
15 Aug 00 | South Asia
Bangladesh mourns slain leader
08 Nov 98 | South Asia
Analysis: The controversy never dies
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