Chittagong-based radical Islamist group Hefazat-e-Islam has threatened to declare jihad and take up arms if Islam is removed as the state religion.
“We will intensify our movement against any attempt to remove Islam from the Constitution as the state religion,” Hefazat Secretary General Junaid Babunagari told a rally in Chittagong's Andarkillah on Friday.
Hefazat organised the rally demanding rejection of a writ petition filed with the High Court challenging legality of a Constitutional provision that gives Islam the status of state religion.
“We will lay down our lives, if necessary, to protect Islam,” he said, hinting at possible future violent agitations.
The Qawmi madrasa-based group, which takes strict views on religion, calls itself the “protectorate of Islam”. “Our aim is not to carry out political agendas or help someone grab state power or topple government. Our only objective is to protect Islam in this country,” Babunagari claimed.
Hefazat Joint Secretary Mainuddin Ruhi said: “We have sacrificed our lives at Shapla Chattar. We are ready to lay down our lives again for the sake of Islam.”
On May 5, 2013, thousands of Hefazat supporters thronged Dhaka to press for their controversial 13-point charter of demand that included curbing women's rights. They clashed with security forces, assaulted female journalists and wreaked havoc on the capital. Several people were reportedly killed in the skirmishes.
“We will declare Jihad from Chittagong if Islam is dropped as the state religion. Those who love Islam will not give in to such an evil bid,” Ruhi warned.
Hefazat's Organising Secretary Azizul Haque Islamabadi argued that there was no harm in maintaining Islam as state religion since the majority of the population was Muslim.
“We will wage jihad against atheists if Islam is dropped from the Constitution,” he said.