The Bangladesh High Court has ruled that Islam will remain as the country’s official religion, scrapping a 28-year-old petition that sought to change it.
Religious minority groups swiftly criticised the ruling, saying this would only embolden Islamist forces to inflict more terror in the country.
According to Agence France Presse, a three-judge panel reportedly threw out the petition last Monday without allowing any testimony from the petitioners. The petition was originally filed in 1988 by a group of 15 activists.
Subrata Chowdhury, who represented the secular activists in the case, told CBN News: “We are saddened [at the ruling]. It’s a sad day for the minorities of Bangladesh.”
Many religious minority leaders expressed fear that the court’s ruling could encourage more Islamist attacks against minorities in the country.
William Proloy Samadder, organising secretary of the Bangladesh Christian Association, said: “In their letters, the Islamists said to our church leaders that Bangladesh would be ruled by Sharia law. As they threatened to kill our leaders, in some cases they also said that only Muslims would live in Bangladesh. Monday’s ruling has surely come as a shot in the arm for many of those Islamists. It is indeed frightening for all religious minorities.”
Meanwhile, leaders of Islamist groups that held demonstrations protesting the High Court’s move to hear the petition believe that the court was aware of the Muslim sentiment and so it chose to reject the petition.
Noor Hossain Qashmi, a Dhaka-based Hefazat-e-Islam leader, said Monday’s ruling in no way poses any threat to non-Muslims in Bangladesh because the religious minorities in Bangladesh “have not faced any discrimination in the past decades while Islam has remained the state religion. They have nothing new to fear about now.”
However, Bangladesh has recently seen a series of attacks against religious minorities, atheist bloggers and foreigners. The Islamic State (ISIS) group claimed responsibility for most of those attacks.
Bangladesh is about 90 percent Muslim and 8 percent Hindu, with Christians and other religions filling the remaining 2 percent.
- Pray for Bangladesh in the light of this ruling, for peace on the streets and for freedom of belief for all people, along with the freedom to worship without fear.
- Pray for Christians in Bangladesh as they are increasingly targets for persecution and discrimination. Pray their protection, and for the government and Muslim authorities to be true to their statements against discrimination.
- Pray for protection for Bangladesh from Islamic fundamentalists, especially ISIL.
- Pray for a move of the Holy Spirit across this nation, for many to hear the Gospel and come to know the truth of life and grace through Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 16 vs 13: “Keep alert, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong.”
Source: http://www.christiantoday.com/article, http://www.persecution.org/2016