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31st-Mar-2016

HC`s verdict on state religion saves peace

By Editorial Desk

A three-member Special Bench of the High Court Division comprising of Justice Naima Hyder, Justice Qazi Reza-ul-Haque and Justice Ashraful Kamal averted religious violence by rejecting a writ petition filed by a group of 15 intellectuals some 28 years ago. The matter came up for hearing before the Special Bench last Monday. Religious groups were already taking to the street threatening public safety this time as the Court fixed the writ for hearing on Monday. But the Court's rejection of the writ allowed the nation to avert a new crisis. Any contrary decision would have been highly disturbing to peace.   Religion is easy to exploit for political purposes, but the question is why sensible people at high places of the state and society like government leaders, politicians and academics always take up such sensitive matter that only wreck peace and unity among the people. The people expect our intellectuals to play their role where they can be most constructive.    The writ petitioners demanded that the article A2 of the Constitution that made Islam state religion by former President Gen. Hussain Mohammad Ershad to be declared as unconstitutional, it being a violation of basic structure of the Constitution. Gen. Ershad who had usurped power in a military coup and then became elected President, acted on the belief that induction of Islam as state religion will make him popular as a champion of the cause of Islam, despite the fact he is not particularly a religious man.  It was an unnecessary political ploy in a country dominated by Muslims. It was quite irrelevant to make Islam state religion. But the problem lies also in the fact that we have intellectuals who think by denying religious reality of the country, they can claim themselves to be progressive.  Islam is the religion of the vast majority of our people in Bangladesh and to make it a state religion or not, it will continue to be so. But denying the inclusion of Islam as state religion would have inflamed religious sentiment of the Muslims with the possibility of disturbing peace seriously. The High Court Division of the Supreme Court boldly rejected the writ petition on the ground that they have no representative character for necessary locus standi for writ petition to be maintainable. But the intellectuals who moved the writ petition did not bother that the Court should not be put in a crisis over a matter that should be best solved politically. Their Lordships certainly played the role of checks and balances of our democratic Constitution. But there are some among the intellectuals to whom creating religious and communal tension is of great importance. Our people need strong role from the intellectuals to build a country free from corruption and incompetence. As because the intellectuals failed the nation, the people are living in fear and feeling unsafe.