Bangladesh High Court dismisses petition challenging national anthem competition in madrasas

The High Court has dismissed a writ petition challenging the government instructions on organising a singing competition of the national anthem at madrasas as well as schools across Bangladesh.

The court says it is unacceptable that school students will sing the national anthem ‘Amar Sonar Bangla’, but those of madrasas will not.

“We lagged behind as we did not learn English during the British period. Now, this writ petition has been filed to drag the madrasa students far behind,” the bench of Justice Syed Muhammad Dastagir Husain and Justice Md Ataur Rahman Khan observed on Tuesday.

In the morning of Independence Day this year on Monday, the national anthem was sung at all educational institutions throughout the country with the proper notations.

From Jan 20 to 31, competitions of the national anthem in chorus were organised at the educational institutions to inspire the singing of the song with correct notations.

The final round was held from Mar 15 to 20 after the competitions at union council, Upazila, district and division levels.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina handed the awards to the winners at a programme at Bangabandhu National Stadium in Dhaka on the Independence Day.

Md Nurul Islam Mia, a teacher of Sukhdeb Fazil Madrasa at Rajarhat in Kurhigram, and Monir Hossain Swadhin Sheikh, a resident of Dhaka, filed the writ petition challenging the Jan 18 government orders on the competition.

On Tuesday, lawyer Toimur Alam Khandaker stood for the petitioners while Attorney General Mahbubey Alam represented the State.

Toimur argued that the National Anthem Rules of 1978 has made it mandatory for only schools, not madrasas, to begin the day by singing the national anthem.

“Madrasas are run in line with the Sharia. It does not allow any music competition. In addition, the Constitution has given people of all faiths the liberty to practise their religions,” he said.

“Where in the Quran is it written that the national anthem cannot be sung? Please show us first,” the court asked.

“And mathematics, English, science had been absent in madrasas. These subjects were added to the madrasa curriculum to keep up to date with time.

“This writ petition aims, in one way or another, to harm the madrasa students,” the court said.

The judges also asked the petitioners’ lawyer what the madrasa students would do if they were asked about their national anthem abroad.

It then dismissed the petition as ‘not presented’.

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