Bangladeshi Prime Minister, Sheikh Hasina has rejected demands by Islamists for a new anti-blasphemy law to punish those who offend Islam. The premier views that the existing laws are enough to penalize those who insult religion. The rejection comes days after scores of supporters of an Islamist organization held a rally in Dhaka against culprits involved in blasphemy. Hasina was of the view that since Bangladesh is a secular democracy everyone has the right to practice their religion.
In response to this refusal, the Islamist faction has given the government a three-week window to accept their demands. The recent uproar of the blasphemy law is linked with the proceedings of the war crimes tribunal. A group of bloggers recently held a sit-in at Shahbagh Square, Dhaka, demanding the death penalty for those involved in war crimes during 1971 and demanded the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamic party in Bangladesh, which opposed Bangladesh’s independence in 1971. It was this protest that ascended tensions as the members of the Islamist party termed the bloggers nonbelievers. The Prime Minister said that the government would look into the matter and take action on demands that seem reasonable. Moreover, Hasina defended the government’s decision to arrest four bloggers on suspicion of damaging religious emotions.