Tens of thousands of Muslims marched in the capital of Bangladesh on Friday to protest against the French president’s support of secular laws, allowing the imprisonment of Prophet Muhammad, burning his effigies and calling for a boycott of French products.
Protests were also held across the country after Friday’s weekly Muslim prayers.
In Dhaka, tens of more than a dozen Islamist parties and groups took to the streets near the Baitul Mokram National Mosque demanding that Bangladesh strengthen ties with France. Some put up banners reading “Say no to Islamophia” and “Boycott French products”.
Barbed wire fences were erected near the mosque as hundreds of police rioted in the procession.
The protesters took effigies of President Emanuel Macron and then lit them.
“I ask the government to immediately remove the French Embassy from this country. Otherwise, in favor of the movement, no favored France will remain in power, ”Abu Taher Jihadi Al Kashmi, a leader, told the protesters.
France is an important support provider and business partner for Bangladesh.
Protests began earlier this week in a Muslim-majority country, with increasing pressure on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to officially condemn France. Hasina, who has not yet officially commented, follows a policy of balanced diplomatic relations with Muslim and Western countries.
Islamic parties support the introduction of Islamic Sharia law in Bangladesh, which is governed by a legal system largely based on British common law.
Muslim-majority countries around the world have been angered by Macron’s refusal to condemn the publication or display of the caricature of Prophet Mohammed. In Islam, any depiction of the Prophet is prohibited. In recent days, this case has come to light again after a horrific accident near Paris by a French teacher who showed the prophet’s exploits in the classroom. The 18-year-old Chechen refugee who carried out the attack was later shot dead by police.
The teacher, Samuel Patty, is portrayed as a symbol of France’s staunch secular ideals and disapproval of religious intrusion into public spheres. Macron and members of his government have vowed to continue supporting such caricatures under the freedom of expression.
There are a series of attacks that the French authorities have blamed for Muslim extremism. On Thursday, a Tunisian man armed with a knife, carrying a copy of the Quran, killed three people in a church in the Mediterranean city of Nees.
Muslim politicians and religious scholars have condemned such satire as hate speech and have considered it holy and disrespectful to Islam.
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