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

Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Seen as a potential driver of recovery, Cairo’s plan to expand waterway had been raising hopes to give country much needed economic boost More

Ebola Maternity Ward in Sierra Leone First of its Kind

Country already had one of world's highest maternal mortality rates before Ebola arrived, virus has added even more complications to health care More

Malaysia Flight 370 Disappearance Ruled Accident

Aircraft disappeared on March 8, 2014; with ruling, families of 239 passengers and crew can now seek compensation from airline More

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.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid