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Court challenges state religion status
Government should explain why Islam as official religion in the constitution should not be declared illegal.Bangladesh Supreme Court (photo: www.panoramio.com)
- ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
- June 10, 2011
A High Court bench issued its ruling on June 8 in response to a long-pending writ petition filed by 15 citizens 23 years ago.
The court appointed 12 senior lawyers to hear Â their opinion on the matter.Â The hearing on the ruling begins on June 16.
â€śI welcome the ruling. We have to go back to the original secular constitution of 1972,â€ť said Oblate Bishop Bejoy Dâ€™Cruze of Khulna.
The chairman of the Episcopal Commission for Christian Unity and Inter-religious Dialogue added: â€śGiving Islam the status of a state religion was apolitically-motivated decision.â€ť Â To make a religion a state religion puts indirect pressure on others Â to follow it, which is not right anyway, he said.
Rosaline Costa, the Hotline Human Rights Bangladesh coordinator agreed.Â â€śThe status of Islam as state religion ushers political gains for a particular government and political parties. It also encourages religious extremism,â€ť she said.Â â€śEveryone should realize that religion is personal and that the state is for all,â€ť she added.
The writ petition was filed June 9, 1988 when the government led by military ruler HM Ershad inserted a section in the eighth amendment of Bangladesh constitution to give Islam the status of state religion.
The Awami League-led grand alliance government that came to power after December 2008 elections pledged in its pre-election manifesto that it will go back to the original constitution of the country.
Forum demands action on violence