In a surprising move, Muslims in Nepal supported the current campaign for restoring the country’s former Hindu identity, saying they were more “safe and secure” under a Hindu state than under a secular constitution. “It is to protect Islam. I have opened my mouth demanding that Nepal be declared a Hindu state in order to protect my own religion,” said Amjad Ali, the chairman of the Rapti Muslim Society.
Chairman of Muslim Mukti Morcha affiliated to the UCPN (Maoist) Udbudhin Fru admitted there was a growing influence of Christianity in Nepal.
“Turning the country secular is nothing but a design to break the longstanding unity among Muslims and Hindus. So there is no alternative to reinstating the country’s old Hindu State identity in order to allow fellow citizens to live with religious tolerance,” Babu Khan Pathan, chairperson of the Rastrabadi Muslim Manch Nepalgunj, said.
“We don’t need a secular identity, but want to see the country called Hindu State as this ensures safety and security for all,” Pathan said. He claimed that around 80% of Muslims in Banke are in favour of Hindu State identity.
Also read: India rejects Nepal’s new political map
Rastriya Prajatantra Party Nepal, a pro-monarchy party, and some other pro-Hindu organisations have also been campaigning for reconverting Nepal to a Hindu state as the country plans to adopt a new constitution.
Drafting of the new constitution is proving troublesome for Nepalese legislators as Nepal has a varied demography. For the past eight years, following a civil war in the country in which 16,000 people died, they have been arguing over crucial issues including secularism and federalism. In a population of 28 million, over 81% are Hindus, 9% are Buddhists, 4.3% are Muslims and less than 2% Christians.
Nepal was the only Hindu monarchy in the world until a civil war that broke out between supporters of the monarchy and Maoist rebels, prompting the king to abandon the 239-year-old monarchy and embrace democracy and secularism in 2008. But the country’s transition to secular democracy couldn’t be completed as its politicians missed several deadlines to replace its interim constitution, extending the debate over the new one for seven years.