Monday, May 02, 2011

Hundreds of Islamic activists clash with police in Bangladesh, 200 detained

SALEEM SAMAD

HUNDREDS OF Islamic activists in traditional white Muslim dress, wearing skull caps and sporting copies of Muslim holy book, the Koran marched in capital Dhaka, where the police imposed ban on holding political rallies from Sunday.

Riot police wearing bullet-proof vest and armed with batons, tear gas and shot guns clash with Islamist who vowed to besiege the city center on Sunday for 48 hours.

Police spokesperson said nearly 200 were wounded during the class with riot-police and an estimated 150 Islamist were detained. The arrested Islamists were whisked away in prison vans.

Eyewitnesses said police lobbed tear gas canisters and water cannon to flush the agitating Islamist, when they refused to vacate the area prohibited for assembly of people.

The Islamist threw brickbats and chanted “Allah O’Akbar” (God is great) and fought pitch battle with police. Scores of police and few journalists were wounded during the clash. None of the victims were wounded from police firing, a senior police officer Krisnapada Roy said.

The supporters and activists of Islami Andolan Bangladesh (Movement for Restoration of Islam in Bangladesh) are opposing secular policies of the government, especially recently proposed gender equality and education policies.

Earlier, the Islamist party declared on Friday that if the government thwarts their planned protest rally, they would call for general strike in a bid to paralyze the country.

Prime minister Shiekh Hasina slammed the Islamist and argued that despite her government adhered to secular policies, but does not contradict the basic tenants of Islam. The Islamist, however, accuses the democratically elected government two years ago as anti-Islamic and vows to overthrow and establish controversial Sharia laws and Islamic constitution. [ENDS]

Saleem Samad, an Ashoka Fellow is an award winning investigative journalist based in Bangladesh. He specializes in Jihad, forced migration, good governance and politics. He has recently returned from exile after living in Canada for six years. He could be reached at saleemsamad@hotmail.com