Thousands of Muslims have rallied in Bangladesh's capital to denounce a court petition seeking to remove Islam as the country's official state religion.

About 3,000 Muslims protested Friday outside the national mosque in Dhaka against the petition, filed by a group of prominent citizens, which is to be taken up by the High Court on Sunday.

More than 90 percent of Bangladesh's 160 million people are Muslim.

Military dictator H.M. Ershad declared Islam the state religion in 1988 to win support during a campaign by major political parties to oust him from power.

Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina brought back secularism as a pillar of the constitution in 2011, but retained Islam as the state religion.