Bangladesh rejects petition to remove Islam as state religion

Bangladesh will keep Islam as its state religion following nationwide protest again secularist petition

Elsa Vulliamy
Monday 28 March 2016 15:13
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Bangladeshi Islamist leaders celebrate the High Court ruling
Bangladeshi Islamist leaders celebrate the High Court ruling

Bangladesh has rejected a petition calling for the country to no longer recognise Islam as the its official state religion.

The High Court dismissed the request and ordered that those who brought it forward did not have theright to do so, the Dhaka Tribune reported.

The petition was reportedly put forward by secular activists in Bangladesh almost 30 years ago, warning that naming Islam as the state religion of Bangladesh could move the country towards fundamentalism.

It was signed by 15 high profile individuals, many of whom are now dead.

Bangladesh’s largest Islamist political party, Jamaat-e-Islami, called for a nationwide strike protest to take place on the same day as the ruling with the aim to urge the High Court to reject the petition.

The party argued that 90 per cent of the country is Muslim, and that the people of Bangladesh did not wish for the state religion to be removed.

They also noted that Bangladeshi Muslims were respectful of minority religions and “set a tremendous example of communal harmony even after having Islam as state religion”.

Protests also took place on Friday outside the national Mosque in Dhaka, where over 3,000 Muslims gathered to denounce the petition.

“Secularism” is written into the Bangladeshi constitution as one of the country’s four principles, despite having a state religion.

The constitution pledges to honour the principle of secularism by eliminating discrimination and persecution of anyone practicing a particular religion, as well as eliminating the abuse of religion for political purposes.

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