Secularism to go with bismillah in Bangladesh constitution (Lead, Superseding earlier story)

May 8th, 2009 - 2:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Sheikh Hasina Dhaka, May 8 (IANS) Bangladesh is planning to restore ’secularism’, one of the four original principles of state policy, in its constitution but will also retain the Quranic expression ‘bismillah’, says Law Minister Shafique Ahmed.
A 2005 high court ruling had held as unconstitutional the Fifth Amendment under which ‘bismillah’ was included and ’secularism’ dropped. The judgement has been challenged before a bench of the appellate division.

Whatever the ruling of the appellate division, the word ‘bismillah’ would remain on top of the constitution, Ahmed said.

“Even if the Fifth Amendment is cancelled by the appellate division, the constitution will retain all the four fundamental principles of state policy - democracy, socialism, secularism and nationalism - that were stipulated in the original constitution framed in 1972,” the minister was quoted as saying by New Age newspaper.

‘Bismillah’ (in the name of Allah) was inducted by governments that took power after the country’s founding father, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, was assassinated in 1975.

His daughter Sheikh Hasina is now the prime minister.

“The court’s verdict has not mentioned anything about bismillah…As the constitution begins with a preamble, the word bismillah will remain there at its top,” Ahmed clarified.

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