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Bangladesh high court denies petition to remove Islam as state religion

[JURIST] The Bangladesh Supreme Court [official website] on Monday threw out a petition introduced by secular activists that sought the removal of Islam as the state religion. Before the case began, a three-judge panel rejected [AFP report] the petition and did not entertain any testimony in relation to the claims brought by the activists. The petition at issue was created 28 years ago and has been historically criticized by numerous Islamist groups within the country. Activist and religious minorities of the nation expressed disappointment with the preemptive court ruling, arguing that they should have a voice in the decision.

In March, the Bangladesh high court found two ministers guilty of contempt [JURIST report] after they had publicly criticized the chief justice of the court. The two ministers, Food Affairs Minister Qamrul Islam and Liberation War Affairs Minister AKM Mozammel Haq had criticized Chief Justice Sk Sinha earlier this month, making derogatory comments and demanding he remove himself from an appeals case involving an Islamist leader that was sentenced to death [JURIST report]. In June a Bangladeshi court gave Syed Mohammed Hasan Ali, a fugitive commander of an auxiliary force of Pakistani troops, the death sentence [JURIST report] for torture and massacre in the Liberation War. Last April a Bangladeshi appeals court rejected [JURIST report] a final appeal by Muhammad Kamaruzzaman, an Islamist party official convicted of war crimes during the 1971 Liberation war, upholding his death sentence.

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