Chicagoans Fight Dictator’s Street Sign

     CHICAGO (CN) – An Asian-American friendship group wants Chicago to take down an honorary street sign dedicated to former President of Bangladesh Ziaur Rahman, claiming he was a dictator along the lines of Saddam Hussein or Augusto Pinochet.
     The Coalition for Asian American Friendship sued the city of Chicago on Sept. 23 in Cook County Court. They object to an honorary street sign in the 6700 block of North Clark, which the city erected on Sept. 14.
     “That said honorary street sign was entitled ‘Ziaur Rahman Way.’
     “That said sign was named after Ziaur Rahman, former President of the Republic of Bangladesh,” the complaint states.
     Rahman, known as Zia, announced the country’s declaration of independence from Pakistan in 1971, and was president of Bangladesh from 1977 until he was assassinated in 1981.
     The complaint quotes sections of Rahman’s Wikipedia page, which states that critics accuse Rahman of setting up a “banana republic in Bangladesh,” pardoning the killers of the prior president, and creating a nominally democratic political system beholden to his own political party.
     The coalition says that “Ziaur Rahman’s installation and tenure was a time of incredible oppression in Bangladesh, and Ziaur Rahman is considered by many as an extreme dictator in Bangladesh history.
     “The establishment of the sign of Ziaur Rahman is an affront to the Bangladeshi Community of Chicago.
     “Said sign has been erected to honor a dictator that oppressed the people of Bangladesh, akin to Saddam Hussein of Iraq or Augusto Pinochet of Chile,” the complaint says.
     The city has resisted similar calls to rename a prominent street in downtown Chicago, Balbo Drive, named after Italian fascist Italo Balbo, Italy’s air force commander under its fascist government, and dictator Benito Mussolini’s heir apparent.
     The coalition says its members find the sign offensive, and seeks a court order to force the city to remove it.
     It is represented by Al-Haroon Husain with Himont Law Group in Park Ridge, Ill.

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