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Arrests follow protests over film

Demonstrators burn vehicles after police ban major rally

Protesters destroyed property during demonstrations at the weekend Protesters destroyed property during demonstrations at the weekend
  • ucanews.com reporter, Dhaka
  • Bangladesh
  • September 24, 2012
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Police arrested dozens of protesters in Dhaka yesterday as the film ridiculing the Prophet Mohammad and more recent cartoons published in France prompted strikes and demonstrations across Bangladesh.

Following sporadic clashes between security forces and demonstrators in which vehicles were vandalized, police detained 77 people and quickly released 32 of them yesterday.

Protestors pelted stones and bricks at police who responded with batons and tear gas.

About 100 people including police and journalists were injured, none seriously, according to reports.

Police also banned a major rally by Islamist parties in Dhaka.

“We were worried about the violence that would erupt if we allowed them to hold a rally,” said Dhaka Metropolitan Police Commissioner Benzir Ahmed.

Muhammad Jafarullah Khan, secretary general of the ultra-conservative opposition party Khelafat Andolon, blamed police for the escalation in violence.

“They have arrested some top leaders and we will continue our movement until they are released,” he said.

Some analysts said main Islamist opposition party Jamaat-e-Islami may have been responsible for promoting confrontation with the authorities, following recent arrests of many of its top leaders who are set to face a war crimes tribunal over alleged abuses during the 1971 war of independence.

Last week, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina condemned the film Innocence of Muslims and called on the U.S. government to take punitive measures against the filmmaker who is believed to be a Coptic Christian based in California, named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula.

In a bid to stop people watching the film, authorities in Bangladesh have blocked the video sharing website Youtube since September 17.

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