At least 50,000 people, according to Bangladesh police, have staged the largest demonstration yet, in a bid to reach the French Embassy in Dhaka. The protests are against French President Emmanuel Macron’s adamant attitude regarding the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him). Organizers said more than 100,000 people had participated.
Al Jazeera reports that Muslims across the world have been holding protests and calling for a boycott of French products following Macron’s comment that Islam was “in crisis” and his defence of the offensive caricatures.
The rally started at Bangladesh’s biggest mosque in Dhaka. Many people came from towns outside Dhaka to take part in the rally, but reinforced security stopped the demonstrators from reaching the embassy.
Al Jazeera reports that protesters chanted “No defamation of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him)”, and burned an effigy of Macron. Macron sparked protests across the Muslim world when he said France would never renounce its laws permitting blasphemous caricatures.
Hefazat-i-Islam, one of the biggest Muslim political groups in Bangladesh, had called this demonstration, the third major anti-France demonstration, in Bangladesh in the past week. Al Jazeera reports that Junaid Babunagaori, the deputy chief of Hefazat-i-Islam, called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to work toward the Bangladesh parliament’s condemnation of Macron.
Macron, meanwhile, said while he ‘understood’ the feelings of Muslims, insisted the so called “radical Islam” he was trying to fight was a threat to all people, especially Muslims. He lashed out at “distortions” from political leaders, which, according to Macron, led to the belief that the caricatures were a creation of the French state, saying, “I think that the reactions came as a result of lies and distortions of my words because people understood that I supported these cartoons.”
Macron’s defence, considering that the caricatures had been projected onto government buildings, has not convinced Muslims.
Umm Muhammed Umar