Protesters on streets of Bangladesh over image seen as insult to Islam

Protests erupted for a second day in Bangladesh’s capital, amid a wave of violence against local Hindus following a viral social media image perceived as insulting to the country’s Muslim majority.

Some 10,000 protesters, many of them carrying banners of Islamist political parties, took to the streets outside the main mosque of the capital, Dhaka, a day after demonstrations on the same site ended in clashes with police.

The crowd chanted “Down with the enemies of the Islam” and “Hang the culprits”.

Photos showing a copy of the Koran, Islam’s holy book, at the feet of a statue in a Hindu temple in the eastern district of Cumilla triggered the protests, as well as incidents of vandalism at Hindu temples across Bangladesh.

Muslims staging a protest (Abdul Goni/AP)

“We ask the government to arrest those who defamed the Koran by putting it at the feet of an idol in Cumilla,” Mosaddek Billah Al Madani, president of Bangladesh’s Islami Movement.

He added that protesters demanded “the death sentence” for those responsible for the images.

Separately, in a nearby intersection about 1,000 Hindus protested against the attacks on temples and the killing of two Hindu devotees in another district where several temples were vandalised by Muslim mobs.

Police said at least two Hindus were killed in Friday’s attacks.

The rise in communal tensions came as the minority Hindus celebrated their largest religious festival, the Durga Puja.

About 9% of Bangladesh’s 160 million people are Hindu.


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