Deadly Bangladesh clashes over 'atheist bloggers'

By AFP
Published: February 22, 2013

Police walk past piles of paper set alight by activists from 12 parties in front of the national mosque in Dhaka February 22, 2013. PHOTO: REUTERS

DHAKA: Bangladesh police fired tear gas and rubber bullets Friday in fierce clashes with conservatists demanding the execution of bloggers they accused of blasphemy, killing one person and injuring around 100.

Parts of central Dhaka turned into a battlefield as protesters attacked police with bricks and sticks in front of the national mosque.

The security forces responded with hundreds of rounds of rubber bullets and tear gas shells, according to witnesses.

The country’s 12 religious parties called the protests after the Friday prayers in nearly half a million mosques nationwide, demanding the execution of bloggers they say were behind blasphemous writings against Islam and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

One person was killed during the clashes in western district of Jhenidah, district police chief Altaf Hossain told AFP, adding that hundreds of protesters also clashed with ruling party activists.

“The person, most probably a supporter of an Islamic party, died on the way to hospital,” he said.

Fierce clashes also occurred in the port city of Chittagong, the northern city of Bogra and dozens of other cities and towns where police fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters, leaving scores injured, police and local media said.

In Dhaka violence broke out outside the Baitul Mukarram national mosque, where the protesters also attacked around a dozen journalists.

Police tried to thwart the protest by locking the gates of the mosque where thousands of people were performing their weekly Jumma prayers, an AFP photographer at the scene said.

Sayeed Khan, an emergency doctor at Dhaka medical college hospital, told AFP that up to 50 people had been admitted, most injured by rubber bullets.

“Several cases are very critical,” he said.

Tensions have risen in the Muslim-majority nation over the alleged anti-Islamic blog posts by Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death last week near his home in the capital Dhaka.

Since Haider’s death, Bangladeshi social media has been flooded with his alleged blog posts and those by other bloggers mocking Islam, triggering protests by a number of Islamic groups and clerics.

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Reader Comments (22)

  • Ashwin
    Feb 22, 2013 - 5:22PM

    hmmm wow i am seeing a quite revolution coming in Bangladesh which i think will the thought leader for moderate muslims.

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  • Mj
    Feb 22, 2013 - 5:32PM

    Religious parties are fighting their way towards irrelevancy in the 21st century. Such displays of stone age mentality only hastens their demise.

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  • Lala Gee
    Feb 22, 2013 - 8:29PM

    @Mj:

    Well, no matter what, you cannot completely eliminate the influence of religion from any society. Socialist tried to do that in USSR and in the socialist block countries, but failed miserably. It is better if we try to learn to coexist peacefully with all the segments of society, instead of suppressing one or the other. It was bound to happen after the politically motivated Shahbagh events and the current Awami League’s government desperate designs to suppress one of her major political rival, Jamat-e-Islami of Bangladesh.

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  • RAW is WAR
    Feb 22, 2013 - 9:08PM

    oh no- not bangladeshis too.

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  • TheTwist
    Feb 22, 2013 - 9:45PM

    @Lala Gee:
    You want people to coexist while one side is screaming for murder, is the majority and completely fixated on the idea they are right. Good luck with that.

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  • Happens
    Feb 22, 2013 - 10:56PM

    The Ideology shows its color again….This ideology will soon grasp the whole world….

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  • shahid
    Feb 22, 2013 - 11:09PM

    people should have the right to express themselves in a peaceful way.

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  • Feb 23, 2013 - 2:37AM

    Lala Jee,

    COexistence implies that both parties are willing to live peacefully.

    In this case, the party writing disrespectful blogs on the internet and the party calling for people to be murdered are not equally at fault.

    The idea that religion is being ‘suppressed’ because a couple of bloggers were allowed to freely express their strong disapproval of it, is simply laughable.

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  • Architect
    Feb 23, 2013 - 3:12AM

    Biased reporting.. exact copy/paste version of occupied world media. ET should follow posts & video clips on facebook & twitter about what’s happening in the world.

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  • Observer
    Feb 23, 2013 - 4:57AM

    @Mj:

    “Religious parties are fighting their way towards irrelevancy in the 21st century. Such displays of stone age mentality only hastens their demise”

    The problem of religious parties in this 21st century is prevalent only in Islamic countries. Since most of them have Islam as the state religion and have enshrined Islam as the foundation of their constitutions, I am afraid Islamic parties are only going to gain more and more strength. Even in Malaysia, the Islamists are gaining ground. What is happening in Bangladesh will be very interesting to watch.

    The only way religion will lose relevancy in Islamic countries is when Muslims openly start to renounce their faiths in large numbers. We know that is impossible since Islam has built-in control mechanisms to prevent that from happening through laws such as blasphemy and apostasy.

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  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Feb 23, 2013 - 5:43AM

    @Observer:
    Makes one wonder if Islam is a parasitical force that is a threat to civilization itself.

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  • Mary D'costa, Goa,India
    Feb 23, 2013 - 11:44PM

    Religion is private matter. There is no proof of God(gods). Fighting in the name of an imaginary God(gods) is madness.

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  • Jeddy
    Feb 24, 2013 - 12:27PM

    Lest we forget Bangladesh was East Pakistan, so this still is a Pakistani problem.

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  • aj
    Feb 24, 2013 - 1:11PM

    bangladeshi government is sensible. . They know importance of freedom of speech!

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  • Babloo
    Feb 24, 2013 - 6:39PM

    Over a million Bangladeshis ( Hindus and muslims ) , were brutally killed in 1971. Not a single Pakistani military man or politician was held accountable. India failed in not demanding trial of officers in indian custody for the brutal killings and let them go to Pakistan. Everyone walked away, as if nothing had happened. 1947 repeated itself in 1971, as no one was held accountable for the killings in 1947 and the political ideology that inspired it.

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  • Babloo
    Feb 25, 2013 - 2:41AM

    Here is a picture essay from the 1971 war. So much brutality but no justice.

    http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?283997

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  • shahid
    Feb 25, 2013 - 10:53PM

    More and more people will question thier faith and or deny the existance of God. it is inevitable.you can’t suppress this in this day and age.

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  • athiest_pk
    Feb 26, 2013 - 5:27AM

    God will not help anyone. That is the problem with muslims all over the world. They can not accept criticism. If its a religion of peace then why is it killing people who dont believe in it.
    This is a big contradiction. As a non-believer living in muslim countries it is better to be discreet. Muslims can never progress untill they start questioning. And when you look at religion with a rational mindset you can find many inconsistencies.
    As the society progresses, God vanishes. It is a simple rule. Muslim societies can not progress untill they get out of this religion debate. If you believe in your religion keep it to yourself. I sincerely hope that Pakistan could have been a secular country. It would have been in a much better state. Look where religion has taken us now. Muslim countries are living in Dark Ages and enlightenment can only happen if people are allowed to express what they think.

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  • Penguin
    Feb 26, 2013 - 6:00AM

    @Lala Gee:

    How much does science have to answer before we don’t have to try to coexist peacefully with silly, and potentially wildly dangerous people anymore? They’re quite tiring with their demands of death and all that malarkey.

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  • Farhan
    Feb 26, 2013 - 2:41PM

    @athiest_pk: The religion of peace also demand to cut those into pieces who declare mutiny against it… so be it

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  • PK
    Feb 26, 2013 - 3:13PM

    @Babloo:

    please also add that no one from Bangladesh Liberation Army was made accountable for the west Pakistanis killed brutally in the streets of DHAKA…My family was slaughtered in that country….
    You want a trial than trial BLA as well..!!!!!

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  • Observer
    Feb 27, 2013 - 12:51AM

    @PK:

    “please also add that no one from Bangladesh Liberation Army was made accountable for the west Pakistanis killed brutally in the streets of DHAKA…My family was slaughtered in that country….You want a trial than trial BLA as well..!!!!!”

    No killing of innocent people can be justified or condoned. However, the BLA’s actions were in retaliation to the brutalities and genocide committed by the Pak army and the Beharis. Action begets reaction, especially in wars. Not that it can be justified, but any atrocities committed by the BLA pales in comparison to what what the Pak army and its Behari supporters. If the Beharis had not sided with the Pak army and committed genocide and rapes against the Bengalis, they wouldn’t have been targeted as oppressors.

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