Dhaka, Oct 27 ( efe-epa).- Thousands of demonstrators gathered in the Bangladesh capital of Dhaka on Tuesday to protest against French President Emmanuel Macron remarks to defend allegedly blasphemous cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad, the most revered figure in Islam.
Macron’s defense of French satire magazine Charlie Hebdo’s right to publish the caricatures of the Prophet has triggered a wave of condemnation in parts of the Muslim world, with many calling for a complete boycott of French goods.
Images of the Prophet are considered offensive by Muslims.
The protest in Dhaka, led by Islami Andolon Bangladesh (Islamic Movement Bangladesh), began at the north gate of the national mosque Baitul Mukarram around 10:30 am.
The protesters accused France of promoting Islamophobia. They carried placards, some of which read, “Islamophobia is Not Freedom,” “Insulting Islam is not Freedom,” Kick Out the French Ambassador from Bangladesh.”
Macron said that “we will not give up our cartoons” and called Islam “a religion in crisis”, speaking at a national tribute last week to honor Samuel Paty, a teacher who was brutally murdered by a radical Islamist for showing caricatures of the Prophet published by satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo during class as part of a lesson on freedom of expression.
“The French president must apologize for his comments. If he fails to do so, we demand the Bangladesh government sever diplomatic ties with France. We also urge people to boycott French products,” said Atiqur Rahman of the Islamist group.
Protester Fazle Bari Masood said they also demanded the Bangladesh government to call a parliament session to condemn the remarks of the French president.
“We demand the Bangladesh government to condemn the remarks. Otherwise, we will boycott all French products,” he said.
So far there was no official reaction from the Bangladesh authorities over the comments of Macron.
The protesters marched towards the French embassy in Dhaka before police barricaded them near Shantinagar Crossing in the capital.
“They left after we put up the barricades. No untoward incident happened,” said Abu Bakar Siddiq, the officer-in-charge of Dhaka’s Paltan police station.
Siddiq estimated that some 15,000 demonstrators joined the protests.
Islami Andolon Bangladesh spokesman Atiqur announced more demonstrations on Thursday and Friday across Bangladesh, whose more than 90 percent of its 160 people are Muslims. EFE-EPA