DHAKA: Hardline Islamist groups in Bangladesh on Thursday threatened large-scale protests if a court moves to scrap Islam as the official state religion of the Muslim-majority nation.

Bangladesh is officially secular, but Islam has been the state religion for almost three decades. More than 90 per cent of the population is Muslim, with Hindus and Buddhists the main minorities.

The High Court is considering a petition by secularists who say Islam’s status as the state religion conflicts with Bangladesh’s secular charter and discriminates against non-Muslims.

Furious Islamist hardliners this week urged the court to dismiss the petition at a hearing on March 27, threatening large-scale protests if it moves to scrap Islam’s special status.

“Any move to scrap Islam’s status will undermine and defame the religion”, Mufti Mohammad Faezullah, secretary general of Islamist political party Islamic Oikya Jote (IOJ) said.