The Jamaat-e-Islami yesterday called for a dawn-to-dusk “peaceful” hartal for today to protest “the conspiracy against Islam's status as the state religion in the constitution”.
Jamaat acting secretary general Shafiqur Rahman announced the shutdown through a press statement.
The hartal coincides with the beginning of the hearing on a writ petition filed 28 years ago challenging the legality of Islam's status as the state religion in the constitution.
The High Court yesterday set today for the hearing.
A special bench of Justice Naima Haider, Justice Quazi Reza-Ul Hoque, and Justice Md Ashraful Kamal is scheduled to begin the hearing at 2:00pm today.
The government led by military ruler HM Ershad on June 9, 1988 inserted a section in the eighth amendment to the constitution making Islam the state religion.
Fifteen distinguished citizens filed the writ petition with the HC that year challenging the amendment.
Following a supplementary petition, the HC on June 11, 2011, issued a rule upon the government to explain as to why the part of the eighth amendment to the constitution, which made Islam the state religion, should not be declared illegal.
On June 30, 2011, the parliament passed a bill on the constitution's 15th amendment retaining Islam's status as the state religion.
The amendment, however, restored "secularism" as one of the four fundamental principles of the state, which had been omitted by a martial law regime after the 1975 bloody changeover.
In its statement, Jamaat, a key component of the BNP-led 20-party alliance, said Bangladesh is a Muslim country and Islam has been included in the constitution as the state religion. No demand has been raised from people to remove Islam from the constitution.
“If the government takes any initiative to remove Islam from the constitution, the people of the country will not accept it,” Jamaat said in the statement.
Ambulance, hospitals, fire service and vehicles related to the media will remain out of the hartal purview, according to the press release.