Skip to main content

Bangladesh Islamists rally for blasphemy law

By Farid Ahmed, CNN
April 8, 2013 -- Updated 0037 GMT (0837 HKT)
Bangladeshi Hefajat-e-Islam activists brandish sandals as they shout slogans during a rally in Dhaka on April 6, 2013.
Bangladeshi Hefajat-e-Islam activists brandish sandals as they shout slogans during a rally in Dhaka on April 6, 2013.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Thousands want crackdown on what they perceive as blasphemy
  • Bangladesh marchers unhappy with bloggers and authors
  • Bangladeshi bloggers deny they are atheists

Dhaka, Bangladesh (CNN) -- Tens of thousands of radical Muslims marched toward the capital on Saturday to demand laws to target bloggers they said denigrated Islam and the Prophet Mohammed.

The bloggers initiated a recent sit-in at Shahbagh Square demanding the death penalty for people involved in war crimes perpetrated more than four decades ago. Saturday's marchers termed them atheists who should be brought to justice for blasphemy.

The sit-in protesters at Shahbagh Square demanded the ban on Jamaat-e-Islami, the largest Islamic party in Bangladesh, which opposed the independence of Bangladesh in 1971.

Online activists who had a pioneering role in organizing the Shahbagh sit-in denied they were atheists.

Muslim hard-liners under the banner of Hefazat-e-Islam on Saturday rallied against bloggers and authors.

Meanwhile, some 25 liberal groups denounced the Hefazat rally and enforced a daylong general strike across Bangladesh, keeping capital Dhaka's communications cut off with the rest of the country on Saturday.

The Hefazat rally was supported by the large opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party and its allies, including Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami.

Earlier in February, a blogger was slain in Dhaka, reportedly for an anti-Islamic posting. Police last week detained four bloggers on charge of damaging religious sentiment.

The Hefazat rally branded the government as cohorts of the atheists and said they wanted it to meet 13 demands, including reinstatement of "absolute trust and faith in the Almighty Allah" in the constitution and capital punishment for those who would denigrate Islam and its prophet.

The demands included declaration of the Ahmadiyya Muslim sect as non-Muslim, a ban on free mixing of men and women, making Islamic education mandatory at all levels and no installation of any sculpture in any public place.

American says he would die for justice in Bangladesh

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Pakistan Taliban say the school attack was revenge for the killing of children in a military offensive -- but they are being pressed by defections to ISIS.
A group that claims it hacked Sony Pictures has posted a public threat against moviegoers who see Sony's "The Interview."
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0243 GMT (1043 HKT)
The gunman behind the deadly siege in Sydney this week was not on a security watch list, and Australia's Prime Minister wants to know why.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 0948 GMT (1748 HKT)
Bestselling author Marjorie Liu had set her sights on being a lawyer, but realized it wasn't what she wanted to do for the rest of her life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
CNN's Matthew Chance looks into an HRW report saying Russia has "legalized discrimination against LGBT people."
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0212 GMT (1012 HKT)
The Sydney siege has brought home some troubling truths to Australians. They are not immune to what are often called "lone-wolf" terror attacks.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 0012 GMT (0812 HKT)
A social media campaign condemning Islamophobia under the hashtag #illridewithyou has taken off after Sydney hostage siege.
Bill Cosby has kept quiet as sexual assault allegations mounted against him, but his wife, Camille, finally spoke out in defense of her husband.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
China-bound AirAsia flight turns back to Bangkok after passenger throws water over crew member.
December 15, 2014 -- Updated 1026 GMT (1826 HKT)
It takes Nepalese eye doctor, Sanduk Ruit about five minutes to change someone's life.
December 16, 2014 -- Updated 1054 GMT (1854 HKT)
This epic journey crosses 13,000 kilometers, eight countries over 21 days. Find out where.
December 18, 2014 -- Updated 1416 GMT (2216 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT