Reviewing the Views
Secularism as fundamental principle of state policy
The Preamble of the Constitution of Bangladesh mentions that "Pledging that the high ideals of nationalism, socialism, democracy and secularism, which inspired our heroic people to dedicate themselves to, and our brave martyrs to sacrifice their lives in, the national liberation struggle, shall be the fundamental principles of the Constitution."
There may be different types of interpretations regarding secularism but the core idea of it refers to the very existence of a system under which multiple religions belong, in other words, under one umbrella there is the presence of various religions. Therefore, secularism is not making a direction to any system excluding the religious principles rather it can be expected that the presence of secularism will ensure more protection of different religions on an equal basis and at the same time in the shade of secularism the practice of religions will also be properly guaranteed.
Examples can be brought from different contexts but what suits the most in respect to the context of Bangladesh is that the term "secularism" should be interpreted in such a way so that it can shade some light over the basic protection of rights of the people from all religious backgrounds as provided in the constitution and thus ensures the security of the constitutional interest of the entire nation at large.
Originally Bangladesh is a very diversified country with full of opportunities and it has its own cultural heritage but after it achieved its independence in 1971 continuous political disorder and ideologically imbalanced situation has presented this highly fertile land very negatively in the outer world though behind these types of infertile situations British colonialists are also highly responsible as during their regime particularly the Eastern part of India and Bangladesh were the most neglected lands because of which these regions have hardly seen the face of development.
It must be remembered that prior to the British conquest of Bengal, we the Hindus and Muslims together were much more civilized and free than any English laws could do to us. Keeping this in mind we may try to explore the possibilities of how we can become more civilized and culture based on our own sense of cultural and religious dignity, morality and legality.
Definitely the doctrine of secularism teaches to be dreamful and such dream is about the "realisation through the democratic process a socialist society, free from exploitation a society in which the rule of law, fundamental human rights and freedom, equality and justice, political, economic and social, will be secured for all citizens" as mentioned in the preamble of the constitution of Bangladesh.
Therefore, it is all about interpretation and everything depends upon such a broad-minded interpreter who interprets the text with the vision of the establishment of an egalitarian society.
What is basically very significant in the context of Bangladesh in order to uphold the true spirit of the liberation struggle of 1971 is to introduce the culture of such a political practice which should be moderate in nature and where secularism should be the basis provided that the meaning of it should be made clear to the general people thinking of their interest and constitutional rights.
However, the urgent need at this very moment is to proceed for a proper refashioning of the constitution upholding the true meaning and spirit of secularism as it is the only ideology which goes perfectly with the interest of Bangladesh as well as to ensure the protection of the constitutional rights of the people and it must be done in such a way so that going beyond all unfair interventions and other political aggressions constitution can give guarantee of the bright future of the nation confirming the proper cultural identity in the global arena.
A S M Wasequzzaman is an LL.M. candidate at International Islamic University Malaysia