DHAKA - Hardline 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 percent 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 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. “Obviously the Islamic parties, general people and the clerics will resist the move by holding protests,” he said.

“If there is such conspiracy and the government and the judiciary bow their heads to these people (secularists), Muslims of all walks of life will hit the roads; fire of resistance will light up across the country,” Hefajat-e-Islam, an Islamist group, said in a statement earlier this week.