Home Muslim religion Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League plans to restore the country’s original constitution and repeal the amendment that made it an ‘Islamic’ nation

Bangladesh’s ruling Awami League plans to restore the country’s original constitution and repeal the amendment that made it an ‘Islamic’ nation

0

The ruling Bangladesh Awami League plans to restore the country’s original, secular Constitution adopted by the country’s Constituent Assembly on November 4, 1972.

The party also plans to repeal the 8th Amendment to the Constitution which made Islam the country’s state religion.

Bangladesh Justice Minister Anisul Huq announced in Dhaka that the government had, through the 15th Amendment to the Constitution passed in June 2011, restored secularism and freedom of religion.

“But Islam continues to be the state religion and we are working to repeal this provision (Section 2A) of the Constitution which was inserted by the 8th Amendment in June 1988. Once we have done this , the original character of the 1972 Constitution framed by our founding fathers will be fully restored,” Huq said at a gathering of jurists and others in Dhaka.

Article 2(A) making Islam the state religion was inserted into the Constitution during the reign of General Hussian Muhammad Ershad who seized power in a bloodless coup in 1982 and had installed himself as the country’s president.

Ershad was an Islamist under whose rule radical Islamism flourished in Bangladesh. He established close ties with Pakistan and allowed regressive and primitive Salafist Islam to take root in Bangladesh.

Islamist clerics, who endorsed Ershad’s harsh rule, became powerful in Bangladesh and Islamist parties became strong and influential.

Ershad’s encouragement of Islamism, which also received Pakistan’s approval, created unrest in Bangladesh and severely disadvantaged the large population of moderate and secular Muslims.

Since coming to power in 2008, the Awami League has made amendments to restore the original 1972 Constitution.

In June 2011, the Awami League government passed the 15th Amendment which made significant changes to the Constitution. Besides increasing the reservations for women, he inserted two articles into the Constitution that prevented the seizure of power by extra-constitutional means.

The 15th Amendment also restored secularism and freedom of religion and included nationalism, socialism, democracy, and secularism as fundamental tenets of state policy. He restored Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman’s status as the “Father of the Nation”.

Justice Minister Huq rooted himself in “patience.”

“We have to keep a little more patience. After the murder of bangabandhu (Sheikh Mujibur Rahaman), a situation was created in which people could not dare to express their thoughts. If we can overcome this fear, we can implement what Bangabandhu did with the 1972 Constitution,” he said.

Huq’s plea for patience is understandable since the Awami League government’s attempts to restore the 1972 Constitution in letter and spirit and abolish Islam as the state religion faces a fierce opposition from the country’s powerful Islamists and Muslim clergy, as well as the opposition Bangaldesh Nationalist Party. (BNP) which has often allied itself with extremist Muslim parties.

Bangladesh has powerful extremist Islamist parties, foremost among them Islami Oikyo Jote, Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami, Bangladesh Muslim League and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Bangladesh.

These organizations threatened street protests and violence if the government went ahead with its plan and removed Islam as the state religion.

“We are now mobilizing public opinion in favor of abolishing Islam as the state religion and granting equal status to all religions. Once we feel the time is right and an overwhelming majority of people are with us, we’ll move on,” Huq said. swarajya by phone from Dhaka.