`Secularism' to be restored in Bangladesh constitution

The government will reprint the constitution following a Supreme Court directive to restore 'secularism', but no political party bearing names of religions would be banned, a cabinet meeting chaired by Hasina decided Monday.

She told a weekly cabinet meeting that the reprinted constitution would restore secularism "as a fundamental state principle", New Age newspaper said quoting a minister who attended the meeting.

Hasina asked her ministerial colleagues to "go to people and make sure they have no confusion about constitution amendments", the minister said.

Her government would sit with the political parties named after Islam "to make them understand that secularism was not against religious faiths".

The official cited many countries where Christianity was state religion but had secular polity, the Daily Star newspaper said.

A large majority of Bangladesh's 156 million people are Sunni Muslims with Hindus, Buddhists and Christians forming less than ten percent of the population.

Religion-based political activity was banned in Bangladesh that separated from Pakistan in 1971 as these parties, including the Muslim League and the Jamaat-e-Islami, had opposed the freedom movement.

They were brought back to the political mainstream after the changes triggered by the assassination of the country's founding leader and president Sheikh Mujibur Rahman in August 1975.

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