Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist religious leaders in Bangladesh marked “Black Day” on June 9 to renew calls for the scrapping of a constitutional provision creating Islam as a state religion.
“Black Day” is marked every year during the anniversary of the 1988 approval of the amendment to the Constitution recognizing an institutional role for Islam in the country.
“If this state of affairs continues, Islamic fundamentalism and religious hatred will end up creating serious problems,” read a statement from the Bangladesh Hindu Buddhist Christian Unity Council.
In an online meeting on Wednesday, the council renewed the call for the cancellation of the amendment of the Constitution.
“With the amendment, the seeds of a sectarian policy have been planted,” said Nirmol Rozario, president of the council, in an interview with AsiaNews.
“In a country where Hindus, Buddhists, and Christians also live, a single religion cannot proclaim itself as the state religion,” he added.
The Constitution declares that Bangladesh is a secular country, but the 1988 amendment states that Islam is the state religion.
“This is an obvious contradiction,” said Rozario.
Lawyer and human rights activist Sultana Kamal told the meeting this week that “usually Constitutions are changed to improve them, but in our country it was done to favor a single religious group.”
Kamal recalled that a secular Bangladesh had been affirmed after a bloody war in 1971. “Why does the current prime minister agree with this discrimination?”
Sheikh Hasina, the country’s prime minister, is the daughter of Bangladesh’s first president and founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman.