Does Sheikh Hasina want secularism? Really?

religion_politicsIt is interesting as well as inspiring to read the remarks made by our prime minister favouring secularism, which is one of the four principles of the constitution reinstated in 2011 after several decades.

But the acts of the government and the public servants in this regard are not seen; as if the provision was added as an eyewash only!

We can understand the dilemma she is in: the constitution recognises Islam as the state religion while also allows religion-based politics. As she could not remove those, she has to work in this regard too!

Despite this, she, her government and supporters have been labelled by radical Muslims as atheists, tantamount to receive death penalty. Over a dozen Islamist parties also placed a 13-point charter for demands to turn the country an Islamic one.

Since then, she has chosen the path of keeping mum regarding religion, protecting the secular and progressive forces, and eliminating the extremists.

Here are some quotes of the prime minister and her ministers which will make you laugh (if you are aware of the happenings) 😛

UNGA, September 2014

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has urged the United Nations to play the central role as the custodian of global peace, security and development saying the evil forces destroying secular fabrics of the nations should be eliminated.

Expressing her grave concern over volatile global security situation and emergence of religious militancy and violent extremism, she said the volatile global security situation continues to pose significant challenge to international development.

Bangladesh maintains a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy to all forms of terrorism, violent extremism, radicalisation and religion-based politics, she said. Saying that anti-liberation forces continue to remain active in destroying the progressive and secular fabric of Bangladesh, Hasina said evil forces resorted to religious militancy and violent extremism in every opportunity.

Nazrul’s birth anniversary, 2013

Hasina on May 24, 2013 urged all to work together to build a secular, modern and democratic Bangladesh to make the dream of Nazrul true. “The dream of Nazrul will come true if we can build a secular, democratic and exploitation free Bangladesh ensuring equal rights to everybody,” she said adding Nazrul professed for equality which annoyed the British rulers. And he drew flaks from the misinterpretators of religions for exposing their hypocrisy.

“Despite all adversities Nazrul never broke down and compromised. Nothing could make him afraid of and dampen his courage and heroism. It’s a great lesson for us,” she said.

However, she mentioned with pride that the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation has declared Dhaka as the capital of Islamic culture in Asia.

Before 15th Amendment

Then law minister Shafique Ahmed in February 2011 said co-existence of secularism and state religion in the constitution would not be contradictory.

Her minister in 2009

Then minister for social welfare Enamul Hoque Mostafa Shahid in October 2009 said the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina wanted to build Bangladesh as a secular state attaching equal behaviour to people of all religions.

The minister made a clarion call for extending united support to Hasina from people of all walks of life irrespective of caste, creed and affiliation for building a secular state by the tenure of the present government.

“We want to prove in the tenure of the present government that it preserves and upholds really equal rights of all religions in the country,” the minister added.

He referred to Charyapada, the lyrics of Buddhist hermits, origin of Bengali language, and urged the members of the Buddhist community to be adhered to the essence of Buddhism for building the country as non-violence peaceful abode.

Former law minister on state religion

On April 4, 2009, then law minister Shafique Ahmed slammed Jatiya Party chief and former president HM Ershad for introducing state religion during his 1982-1990 regime, in violation of what the minister said the nation’s core principles.

“The amendment to make Islam the state religion was contrary to the fundamentals, such as secularism, of the country’s 1972 constitution,” he said.

Recent shocking anticipation

A US Congress subcommittee has voiced concern over Bangladesh’s political instability, warning that it would serve as a breeding ground for religious extremism and militancy.



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