DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) – Around 10,000 Bangladeshis from an Islamist group marched in the country’s capital on Tuesday to denounce cartoons of the Prophet of Islam Muhammad in France, while the group’s leader urged Muslims around the world to boycott French products.
Protesters from Islami Andolon Bangladesh, a group that advocates for the introduction of Islamic law in the predominantly Muslim country, carried banners and signs reading “All Muslims in the World, Unite” and “Boycott France. “.
They also wore a large cutout of a photo of French President Emmanuel Macron and hung shoes around his neck.
Muslim-majority countries were outraged by Macron’s comments last week in which he refused to condemn the publication or display of caricatures of Muhammad. An 18-year-old of Chechen origin is accused of the beheading on October 16 near Paris of a French teacher who had shown caricatures of Muhammad.
France considers religious satire to be one of the types of speech that falls within the scope of free speech, while many Muslims consider any perceived attack on their prophet to be a serious offense.
Protesters gathered in the morning outside Bangladesh’s main Baitul Mokarram mosque in Dhaka, the capital, and then started marching towards the French Embassy, located a few kilometers from the mosque. But the police stopped the procession on its way and it ended peacefully.
Rezaul Karim, the leader of Islami Andolon Bangladesh, urged France to refrain from posting caricatures of Muhammad.
“We Muslims have never made caricatures of other religious leaders. This is the story. Because the person who taught us is the prophet Muhammad, ”said Karim. “Allah sent Prophet Muhammad as Ambassador of Peace. … Macron and his associates have learned nothing from history. You should be ashamed. “
“I call on all Muslims in the world to boycott all products from France. We have to teach them a good lesson, ”he told his supporters.
Karim said Macron should be treated for what he called “mental illness” and called on the United Nations to punish France.
He also criticized Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina for saying nothing against France or Macron. “You are a Muslim, to get votes you use them, but now why are you so silent?” he said.
While leaders of many countries, including Pakistan and Turkey, have openly criticized French policies, Hasina has yet to officially comment.
Bangladesh is a predominantly Muslim country of 160 million people and is governed by a secular constitution. But dozens of groups, including Islami Andolon Bangladesh, have long called for the introduction of Sharia law in the country.