Bangladesh Will Hear Case to Drop Islam as Official Religion

Bangladesh Will Hear Case to Drop Islam as Official Religion
By Antonio Melina/Agência Brasil [CC BY 3.0 br], via Wikimedia Commons
High court case against Islam as state religion in Bangladesh to be heard March 27.

After 28 years, Bangladesh is again seeing legal action to drop Islam as its state religion, with the High Court agreeing to hear the case on March 27.

Bangladesh Will Hear Case to Drop Islam as Official Religion[/tweetthis]

The country’s 1971 constitution declared equality among all religions, however, military ruler Hussain Mohammad Ershad amended it in the year 1988, making Islam the state religion. A group of 12 citizens filed a writ with the High Court to oppose the amendment, however, they soon decided to drop the case. “After filing the case, we realized that the bench would not be favorable for us, so we did not move further,” said Shahriar.

Bangladesh’s current government, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, once again amended the constitution. While the principle of of secularism was reinstated, Islam remained the state religion. The court case initiated by Shahriar’s group seeks to find a solution to this contradiction. Bangladesh cannot stand on secularism while still adopting Islam as the state religion. The battle to overturn Islam as the state religion is being supported by several minority religious leaders and contests the decision as illegal. The amount of support the move will garner is questionable, considering that 90% of Bangladesh is Muslim, 8% are Hindu and 2% are members of minority religions.

“It will take long time to get any decision. The nature of the case is time-consuming. The High Court will continue to hear from both parties and then will deliver its verdict,” said Rana Dasgupta, a government prosecutor. The move towards secularism emerges amid increasing militant violence in recent months, violence that includes bomb attacks against mosques and Hindu temples.

The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for some of the attacks, which include the killing of a Hindi priest and the killings of Japanese citizen, an Italian aid worker and a policeman. However, the government denies the presence of ISIS in the country. It is believed that Islamist groups Jumatul Mujahedeen Bangladesh and Ansarullah Bangla Team are responsible for at least seven attacks on both foreign and minority people in the country in the past year.


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