Bangladesh Considers Dropping Islam As State Religion

Russ Read | Pentagon/Foreign Policy Reporter

Bangladesh’s government is considering removing Islam as the official state religion in response to several attacks on religious minorities by radical Islamists.

The country’s supreme court is hearing arguments on whether to drop the religion. Bangladesh is home to a massive majority of Muslims — approximately 89 percent according to the CIA world fact book, with the remainder of the population made up of mostly Hindus and some Christians.

There is some dispute as to who exactly is responsible for a string of recent attacks. Bangladeshi officials claim the perpetrators are homegrown terrorists, but the head of U.S. intelligence has warned that transnational terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State, are responsible.

Attacks have included the murders of bloggers and journalists, the shooting of Shia Muslims in prayer at a mosque by majority Sunnis and attacks on Christian priests and leaders.

“We have made arrests on each and every so-called ISIS-claimed attack,” said a Bangladeshi police official to Breitbart. “The attackers have confessed their crimes in court. They have also confessed being a Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh member, and denied any linkage with ISIS.”

Clapper claimed in a written testimony to the U.S. Senate that ISIS could be responsible for as many as 11 attacks on religious minority groups and foreign individuals. He also noted that Ansarullah Bangla Team and al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent are responsible for the murder of 11 bloggers and writers in Bangladesh beginning in 2013.

Bangladesh has made attempts to quell the string of attacks on bloggers through tough sentencing, two of the attackers responsible for murdering atheist blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider with a meat cleaver were given the death sentence December of last year.

Located near eastern India, the country of Bangladesh was formed in 1971 after a war in which as many as 300,000 civilians were killed. Initially, the country was started as a secular state, despite its overwhelming Muslim majority, it was not until 1988 that Islam became the official state religion through a change to the constitution.

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