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Praise comes for secularism

Country an example to other multi-religious societies, UK academic says
Praise comes for secularism
Published: February 21, 2012 07:55 AM GMT
Updated: February 21, 2012 09:10 AM GMT

Europe can learn a lot from Bangladesh about ensuring freedom of all religions, a British academic in Philosophy and Theology said yesterday. The remark from Dr Nicholas Adams from Edinburgh University was in response to Dhaka University (DU) professor KAM Saaduddin’s observation that Bangladesh is a prime example of communal harmony and that secularism there means the inclusion of all religions in society. They were speaking at a discussion in Dhaka on “The New Secular,” jointly organized by the Department of World Religions and Culture of DU and the British Council. Dr Adams, however, suggested there is a new type of secularism where laws and customs promote similarities among different religious communities in the pursuit of the common good. “We don’t need to be secular in the corrosive nineteenth century sense in which religious life is rendered precarious and then edged out of public life and into some gloomy private sphere where only the secret services listen in,” he said in his keynote speech. He, however, said it does not necessarily mean that Bangladesh replicates this idea. “We are not going to export it here,” he said. Professor KAM Saaduddin said religion-based nationalism in Bangladesh ended in 1952 through developing a common language. Since then, it has been nationhood based on the Bangla language. However, at the same time people here are still religious, he added. “So, we are simultaneously secular and religious,” he said, adding that Bangladesh has not witnessed as many communal riots as in neighboring countries. Chief guest DU Philosophy professor Dr Aminul Islam said having Islam as a state religion and maintaining secularism as a state policy in the constitution, however, is contradictory and not desirable. Such a contradiction should be clarified to maintain consistency in state policy, he suggested. Dr Kazi Nurul Islam of the Department of World Religions and Culture said secularism that allows freedom for all religions should be practiced everywhere in the world. Related reports Bangladesh praised as inter-faith leader

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