Thousands of Muslims rallied in Bangladesh’s capital on Friday to denounce a court petition seeking to remove Islam as the country’s official state religion.
About 3,000 Muslims protested outside the national mosque in Dhaka against the petition, filed by a group of prominent citizens, which is to be taken up by the High Court on Sunday.
The Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh group called for a mass strike on Friday, warning that “Millions of Muslims will come out of mosques against the Supreme Court” and punish the judges. The Islamic fundamentalist group Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh has threatened retaliation and a general strike if the Supreme Court seriously considers dropping Islam as the state religion.
“Bangladesh is a country where 92 per cent of the people are Muslim. If anybody removes our religion from the constitution, we shall oppose them. If the government and the Supreme Court do it, they will offend our religious sentiment,” said the Hifazat-e-Islam Bangladesh Secretary Azizul Haque Islamabadi. Huge mass protest and people will follow with dire consequences.
The judges are currently holding public hearings to decide whether to repeal the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which makes Islam the state religion.
“We abide by the court, but we hope it will not take any decision which will force religious people to take to the streets and cause chaos in the country,” Islamabadi noted.
Military dictator H.M. Ershad declared Islam the state religion in 1988 to win support during a campaign by major political parties to oust him from power. He resigned amid large protests in 1990.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina brought back secularism as a pillar of the constitution in 2011, but retained Islam as the state religion.
Source: News Asia