Fresh protest in Bangladesh over remarks by India’s BJP leaders against Holy Prophet


Around 10,000 people demonstrated in the Bangladeshi capital on Thursday in the second protest in a week over remarks about the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by an Indian official that sparked anger across the Islamic world.

Authorities in India have meanwhile ordered heightened security in several regions for coming Friday prayers after two people were shot dead in protests there last week, local media reported.

Last Friday people took to the streets in huge numbers across Asia following the comments by a spokeswoman for India’s ruling party on May 26.

The governments of nearly 20 countries summoned Indian envoys for an explanation of Nupur Sharma’s remarks about the Prophet.

Shouting slogans such as “Muslims of the world unite”, the Bangladeshi protesters on Thursday rallied in front of Dhaka’s biggest mosque and tried to march to the Indian embassy before being blocked by police.

“There were around 10,000 marchers. They were peaceful,” senior police official Enamul Haq told AFP.

The protest was organised by Islami Andolan Bangladesh, one of the largest political parties in Bangladesh, which is home to the world’s fourth-largest Muslim population.

Around 150,000 people demonstrated last Friday in major Bangladeshi cities including 20,000 in the capital Dhaka and thousands more in towns and universities.

Speakers at the Dhaka rally on Thursday called for a boycott of Indian products and demanded Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina formally lodge a protest with India.

Hasina, who has been in power for 13 years, is a close ally of India and has stopped short of condemning Sharma’s remarks.

Derogatory comments about Islam and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) on social media often trigger violent protests in Bangladesh. They often also spark riots targeting minorities.

Last year, at least six people were killed when widespread anti-Hindu riots swept the southeast of Bangladesh after the alleged desecration of the Holy Quran in a Hindu temple.

Since coming to power in 2014, Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government and his Bharatiya Janata Party have been accused of championing discriminatory policies towards India’s Muslim minority.

Activists and supporters gather outside the Baitul Mukarram National mosque before marching towards the Indian embassy in Dhaka on Thursday to protest against the remarks on the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) by an India’s ruling party official.

Sharma’s comments sent the BJP into damage control, with the party suspending her from its ranks and insisting it respected all religions.

As largely peaceful protests raged in several Indian cities last Friday, police opened fire in eastern Ranchi, killing two people after demonstrators threw stones and bottles.—AFP


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