Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bangladesh: No Politics Based on Religion

DHAKA, Jan 4: Bangladesh’s dozens of Islamic political parties must drop Islam from their name and stop using religion when on the campaign trail following a court ruling, the country’s law minister said on Monday.

The Supreme Court on Sunday upheld an earlier ruling by the High Court from 2005 throwing out the fifth amendment of the constitution, which had allowed religion-based politics to flourish in the country since the late 1970s.

“All politics based on religion are going to be banned as per the original constitution,” Law Minister Shafique Ahmed said.

The verdict does not affect constitutional amendments that made Islam the Muslim majority nation’s state religion in 1988 and incorporated a Quranic verse in the constitution.

The main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, which is allied with two Islamic parties, said it would appeal the verdict.

Bangladesh’s original constitution barred the use of religion in politics.

“We want to reinstate the original constitution. Secularism was a pillar of the 1972 constitution,” said Mr Ahmed.

The move follows the Awami League’s sweep to power in 2008 elections, which saw them beat the BNP with a landslide.

The new government outlawed a controversial Islamic party, accusing it of destabilising the country. Four other Islamic organisations, including the Jamayetul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), were earlier banned after they carried out a series of nationwide bombings that left 28 people dead in 2005.—AFP

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