Bangladesh moves to retain Islam as state religion

Bangladesh moves to retain Islam as state religion 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 issue.

Religious minority groups and civil society bodies have warned of launching a major campaign unless the provision was scrapped from the constitution.