Dhaka: Bangladesh is likely to retain
Islam as the state religion, amid growing pressure from
religious minorities and civil society groups to restore the
secular character of the 1972 constitution.
However, the Awami League-led coalition, which plans
to carry out key amendments to the constitution, is expected
to ensure equal status of other religions.
"You know the (parliamentary) special committee has
suggested incorporation of a provision declaring equal status
of other religions and equal rights of followers of all faiths
keeping Islam as the state religion," Law Minister Shafique
Ahmed today said.
"The parliament eventually will take the final
decision on the proposed amendments,? he added, without giving
any further details.
Media reports said the cabinet yesterday agreed with
the special committee suggestions to retain Islam as the state
religion "because of the sensitivity of the issue".
The High Court last week sought an explanation from
the government for keeping Islam as the state religion.
The order came on a long-pending writ petition by 15
distinguished Bangladeshis filed in 1988 just after the then
government of military ruler turned politician president H M
Ershad incorporated a provision in the constitution declaring
Islam as the state religion under the Eighth Amendment.
The court this month also appointed 11 senior lawyers
and jurists as `amicus curiae` to place their opinion on the
Religious minority groups and civil society bodies
have warned of launching a major campaign unless the provision
was scrapped from the constitution.