At least 50,000 people have staged a huge demonstration in Bangladesh over Emmanuel Macron’s stance on the right to publish cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The rally, which started at Bangladesh’s biggest mosque in the capital Dhaka, was stopped from getting close to the French embassy where security had been stepped up.
The march was more than 1.25 miles long and crowds carried effigies of Macron, caricatures and a fake coffin for the French president.
Police estimated some 50,000 people took part in the protest which demanded a boycott of French products, while organisers said there were more than 100,000 people.
Protesters chanted “No defamation of the Prophet Muhammad” and burned an effigy of the French leader.
Police put up a barbed wire barricade across a major road to stop the demonstrators getting close to Dhaka’s embassy district and the event broke up without trouble.
The third major anti-France demonstration in Bangladesh in the past week was called by Hefazat-i-Islam, one of the biggest Muslim political groups in the country of 160 million people.
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Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to shut down the Embassy of France in Dhaka.
Bangladesh’s government has so far not commented on France or the protests.
Junaid Babunagaori, deputy chief of Hefazat-i-Islam, called on Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to move the Bangladesh parliament to condemn Macron.
“I call on traders to throw away French products. I ask the UN to take stern action against France,” he told the rally.
Other Hefazat leaders said Macron must apologise to Muslims around the world.
Babunagari also demanded declaring the Qadiani community as non-Muslim, since he claimed the committee members are enemies of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
“We are friends of the Prophet (pbuh) and our government as well. We want the government to stay for another 100 years, but the basic principles of Islam need to be implemented. And demands of Hefazat-e-Islam should also be met,” he added.
Before the march began, Babunagari demanded introducing capital punishment for anyone found guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Bangladesh.
He also demanded that the government sever all diplomatic ties with France in protest of the display of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
He also urged all the Muslim majority countries as well as OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) affiliated countries to cut all the diplomatic ties with France.
“France insulted our Prophet (pbuh). We ask everyone to boycott French products. Keep French products under your feet,” he added.