News / Asia

    20 Killed in Clashes Between Bangladesh Police, Islamists

    Islamist protestors throw bricks and stones towards Bangladeshi police during clashes in Narayanganj, some 20 kms from Dhaka, May 6, 2013.
    Islamist protestors throw bricks and stones towards Bangladeshi police during clashes in Narayanganj, some 20 kms from Dhaka, May 6, 2013.
    Aru Pande
    Fiery clashes between Bangladeshi security forces and Islamic hardliners demanding the implementation of anti-blasphemy laws have killed at least 20 people in and around the capital Dhaka since Sunday. 

    Police worked Monday to clear Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, of any remaining protesters, a day after tens of thousands of members of the radical Islamic group Hefajat-e-Islam took to the streets.

    Islamists blocked roadways and fought with police late Sunday, while shouting “God is great” and calling for the Awami League-led government to enact stronger Islamic policies.

    Hifazat-e-Islam

    • Coalition of Islamic organizations, scholars and clerics
    • Rose to national scene after murder of blogger Rajib Haider, who had been accused of anti-Islam writings
    • Seeking anti-blasphemy law that includes death penalty
    • Wants law to punish bloggers who insult Islam
    • Wants a ban on women and men mixing in public
    • Calls for an end to candlelit vigils
    The newly formed Hifazat-e-Islam has put forth a list of 13 demands including mandatory Islamic education for all, the segregation of men and women, and death to so-called "atheists".

    Former Bangladeshi law minister and current Supreme Court senior advocate Kamal Hossein said such demands will get little support in a country that - despite being 90 percent Muslim - has remained secular since independence.

    “I can honestly say that there is complete consensus in the country on non-communal democracy and not getting communalism revived again, not seeing religion mixed up with politics," Hossein said. "Pakistan is having enough difficulties with it for people to just look across [and see how they are faring]. And I have spoken to people from Pakistan and they say ‘you are so fortunate to have been able to have non-communal politics.”

    • Police try to detain an activist of Hifazat-e-Islam during a clash in front of the national mosque in Dhaka, May 5, 2013.
    • Members of the media rescue assist an injured activist of Hifazat-e-Islam during a clash with police in front of the national mosque in Dhaka May 5, 2013.
    • Members of the media assist an injured police officer during a clash with activists of Hifazat-e-Islam in front of the national mosque in Dhaka, May 5, 2013.
    • A police officer shoots rubber bullets during a clash with activists of Hifazat-e-Islam in front of the national mosque in Dhaka, May 5, 2013.
    • Bangladeshi activists from Hifazat-e-Islam, a newly formed group, set a police jeep on fire during a protest in Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 5, 2013.
    • Islamic activists block a road during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law, Dhaka, Bangladesh, May 5, 2013.

    Hifazat’s protest is in response to mass rallies earlier this year that were fueled by social media. The bloggers and young demonstrators are calling for the death penalty for those who committed war crimes during Bangladesh’s fight for independence from Pakistan in 1971.

    In February, a special war tribunal sentenced the leader of Bangladesh’s main Islamic political party Jamaat-e-Islami to death for his role in mass killings, rapes and other atrocities committed during the war. Jamaat is an ally of the country’s main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

    Former minister Hossein said the ruling government must send a strong unified message to those who try and question the country’s constitution that is based on secularism.

    He added that mal-governance, corruption, and a lack of accountability in Bangladesh have created an opening for extremist voices. Hossein pointed to the recent garment factory collapse that killed more than 600 people as an example.

    “The parliament member who is supposed to have given all kind of cover for these criminal activities [that led to the factory collapse], she is not being asked to explain what has happened [in parliament]. This dissatisfaction with what should be a strong democracy is what opens up the possibility for others to come and say ‘we have the answer' -- of course, they don't have the answer,” Hossein stated.

    For now, Bangladeshi authorities are left to clean up the aftermath of Sunday’s violent protests and mourn many of the police and paramilitary soldiers who are among the dead. Police have banned all rallies and demonstrations in Dhaka on Monday to prevent further clashes.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Aron from: Bangalore
    May 06, 2013 7:41 AM
    Does not make sense. Why are they not fighting against corruption & poverty? They want a sick law to be enforced to kill the minorities. Human creatures! We are still animals! Long way to go!

    by: dibya from: India
    May 05, 2013 11:13 PM
    Bangladeshi has been a killing field for 100 years due to islamist . Chakma buddist have been prosecuted and hindus have been marginalised form 20 % to 2% . The country is an extremely unsafe for non-muslim . Land , women are most targetted. Millions people have been butchered here . It is nothing but a Zoombie land

    by: Tony Cantero from: Los Angeles, CA
    May 05, 2013 10:13 PM
    Religious zealots all share a common trait; they never excelled beyond a high school education. In USA, Christians and Catholics are conspiring to repeal the "separation of church and state" clause of the US Constitution. Fortunately, the number of church patrons are dropping nationwide, which is a reflection of people turning away from religion and focusing on science instead.
    In Response

    by: Roman from: Oman
    May 07, 2013 2:39 AM
    this is not a fight for religion, this is a political plot, and the government is suppressing the voice of Muslim parties, and political disputes are turning into a religious affair. it is not a platform for religious dispute rather political stress. The government started this whole thing by putting behind key leaders of Jamat ul islam, in the name of war crimes which are alleged and biased. all these events are repercussions of the event started by the government. These media reports seem to forget that. PS: understand that the elections are nearing soon! open your eyes and mind while reading a news article. just don't post

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.