Bangladesh considering dropping Islam as state religion, according to senior
"The force of secularism is within the people of Bangladesh. There is no such
thing as a ‘minority’ in our country"
a.. Gabriel Samuels a.. @gabs_samuels a.. Tuesday 15 November 2016 a.. 26
commentsMillions of Muslims gathered for the three-day religious event in the
centre of Dhaka in January this year REUTERS
Government officials in Bangladesh are considering dropping Islam as the
country’s national religion after a senior politician claimed Bangladeshi
people have embraced “a force of secularism”.
Dr Abdur Razzak, a leading member of Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League party,
proposed the religion be withdrawn from the country’s constitution during a
discussion at the National Press Club in the capital Dhaka.
“Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony. Here we live with people from all
religions and Islam should not be accommodated as the state religion in the
Bangladeshi constitution,” Dr Razzak said in his report.
“I have said it abroad and now I am saying it again that Islam will be dropped
from Bangladesh’s constitution when the time comes.
“The force of secularism is within the people of Bangladesh. There is no such
thing as a ‘minority’ in our country.”
Dr Razzak added he believed Islam had been maintained as the state religion for
“strategic reasons”, but declined to elaborate on this during the discussion.
Islam is the largest religion in Bangladesh, with a practicing Muslim
population of approximately 150 million - making it the fourth largest Muslim
population in the world after India, Pakistan and Indonesia.
According to a national survey from 2003, religion was the primary way
Bangladeshi citizens identified themselves, and atheism was found to be rare.
During a recent speech, Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina highlighted
the importance of “taking care” of those who follow minority religions.
“As a Muslim majority country it is the moral responsibility of the Bangladeshi
citizens to take care of minorities,” she told a conference.
“Bangladesh is a country of communal harmony which should be maintained at any
cost for development and brighten the country’s image.”
The prime minister also condemned the recent actions of the militant group
Isis, who have carried out various violent attacks against religious minority
communities this year.
“You have to remain careful so that no such incidents, which are taking place
sporadically in different parts of the country, take place anywhere in the
country,” she added
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