Dhaka: A coalition of 12 Islamist groups today enforced a nationwide shutdown protesting against a film mocking Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).
The action was taken amid tight security a day after protesters clashed with police and 50 people were injured in the capital.
Police and witnesses said more 40 people were detained in Dhaka and more than a dozen were arrested in the south-eastern port city of Chittagong and south-western Bhola as they tried to obstruct vehicle movements.
The Dhaka streets witnessed thin traffic while most schools, shops and private offices were closed as the extreme right-wing groups enforced the strike to protest against the anti-Islam film ‘Innocence of Muslims’ and caricatures published in a French magazine.
“The strike exposed people to misery and actually made the religion look bad,” home minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir told journalists in brief comments while hundreds of police in riot gears and elite anti-crime Rapid Action Battalion (RAB) forces patrolled streets in the capital and other major cities.
The protesters are also angry at Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina’s ruling Awami League, which pursue a secular principle, and accuse it of scrapping “absolute faith in Allah” as one of four pillars of the constitution in line with a Supreme Court verdict.
The Bangladesh government, however, condemned the film and blocked video-sharing website YouTube in an effort to calm tensions while Hasina earlier this week demanded intervention from the US government.
“No Muslim can tolerate such defamation of the Prophet,” said Hasina, who also called on Washington to begin legal proceedings against the filmmakers.
Hasina’s condemnation was echoed by the main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) chief Khaleda Zia.