DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh's government will retain Islam as the country's official state religion despite pledges by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to restore the state's secular character, a minister said Tuesday. Bangladesh, a Muslim-majority nation of 150 million, was declared a secular republic in 1972 but a series of constitutional amendments by two military dictators abandoned the principle and made Islam the state religion in 1988. "Islam will remain the state religion," Law Minister Shafiq Ahmed told AFP, adding that Bangladeshi Hindus, Buddhists and Christians would be allowed to practice their religions freely.