Hifazat-e Islam warns court over petition on Islam as state religion

Qawmi madrasa-based Hifazat-e Islam, which unleashed large-scale violence from its 2013 rally in Dhaka’s Motijheel, has now warned the High Court over hearing a rule on Islam as the state religion.

Chittagong Bureaubdnews24.com
Published : 21 March 2016, 10:22 AM
Updated : 21 March 2016, 12:11 PM

The court will hear the rule questioning the insertion of Islam as state religion in the Constitution through an amendment next week.

The amendment made in June 1988 during the tenure of military dictator HM Ershad inserted Article 2A in the Constitution, which gave Islam the status of state religion.

Fifteen eminent persons filed a writ petition the same year challenging the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution.

Hifazat's mayhem at Dhaka's Motijheel in May 2013.

They included former chief justice Kamal Uddin Hossain, Poet Sufia Kamal, National Professor Kabir Chowdhury, Prof Khan Sarwar Murshid, Prof Mosharraf Hossain, retired Maj Gen CR Duttta, Prof Serajul Islam Choudhury, writer Badaruddin Umar, journalist and writer Faiz Ahmed, Borhan Uddin Khan Jahangir and Prof Anisuzzaman.

Of them, only Duttta, Umar, Jahangir, Serajul Islam and Anisuzzaman are alive.

At a media conference in Chittagong on Monday, senior Hifazat leaders described the petitioners as ‘insane’ and demanded a referendum if needed.

“We abide by the court, but we hope it will not take any decision which will force the religious people to take the streets and cause a chaos in the country,” said its Organising Secretary Azizul Haque Islamabadi.

Hifazat's mayhem at Dhaka's Motijheel in May 2013.

A larger High Court bench is expected to hear the rule on Mar 27, which was issued by a two-member bench in 2011 asking why the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution should not be annulled.

“Islam as a state religion in definitely a democratic right as it’s in favour of the majority. If necessary, the matter should be resolved through a referendum,” Islamabadi said while reading out a statement.

He said that the statement was finalised after consulting with their chief Ahmed Shafi, a hardliner, who had gone on record saying ‘slaying atheists had become ‘Wazib’ (something which is more important than Sunnah).

Since February 2013, at least five secular bloggers have been hacked to death in Bangladesh by suspected Islamists.

Replying a query from the media, Hifazat Secretary General Junaid Babu Nagari said, “In 1988, the court scrapped a similar petition. Why did the court now accept it?

“Petitions like this cannot be accepted in a country where 92 percent of the population is Muslim.”

He said that Bangladesh will lose its sovereignty without Islam as the state religion.

“We want to inform the court if the verdict goes against Islam as the state religion then a chaos might break out. We are requesting the court to read the people’s pulse,” said Babu Nagari.