Bangladesh likely to remove Islam as state religion

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The Bangladeshi State Minister for Information, Murad Hassan, has said Islam is not the state religion and the country will soon go back to its original secular constitution of 1972 envisioned by founder Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.

“We have the blood of freedom fighters in our body. At any cost, we have to go back to the constitution of ‘72. I will speak in Parliament to go back to the constitution that Bangabandhu (Sheikh Mujibur) went through. Even if no one speaks, Murad will speak in Parliament,” he said in a statement.

“I do not think that Islam is our state religion. We’ll get that bill enacted in Parliament under Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s leadership… This is a non-communal Bangladesh. Bangladesh is a secular country. Everyone will practice their faith here.”

The original secular constitution of Bangladesh was amended during the rule of General HM Ershad in the late 1980s and Islam was instituted as the state religion.

The amendment inserted “in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful” at the beginning of the constitution. Similarly, in the amendment of 1988, it was stated that Islam shall be the state religion.

The ruling Awami League party enjoys an absolute majority in Parliament so the amendment won’t be opposed when it is tabled.

The minister also lashed out at former military dictators for incorporating Islam in the constitution as the state religion. And he criticised his current political opponents like Jammat-e-Islami and the Bangladesh Nationalist Party for “using religion to divide the country.”

The statement came at a time when the country is going through the worst phase of communal violence in years. It has left several dead and hundreds are injured. Dozens of buildings including shops, temples, and houses belonging to the Hindu community were targeted in some parts of the country by unidentified men after reports of a Quran being desecrated were spread on social media.

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