They gathered as a part of their countrywide protest program
Members of influential Islamist platform Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh held a rally in front of Dhaka’s Baitul Mukarram Mosque to protest against the recent violence in Bhola, which left four people dead and hundreds injured.
Hefazat members, primarily madrasa teachers and students, gathered near the national mosque on Topkhana Road on Tuesday afternoon, as part of their nationwide campaign.
Activists representing Hefazat-e-Islam said they had had plans to roll out a large procession from Baitul Mukarram, but decided to instead hold a protest rally there.
Addressing the rally, Nur Hossain Kashemi, chief of the Dhaka Metropolitan chapter of Hefazat-e-Islam, said people will never put up with those who do not respect Islam's holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
He added that those who could not uphold the dignity of the holy Prophet (pbuh) have no right to remain in power.
A stricter law with provisions for capital punishment must be introduced for those who make disparaging comments about Allah and the prophets (pbuh) or messengers, he said, adding that the protests will continue unless such laws are put in place.
Kashemi, also the vice president of the Islamist group, said that Bangladesh is a country of peace,and Hefazat-e-Islam believes in peace and harmony, so his group will continue to peacefully protest events.
Kashemi made a series of additional demands of the government. They were: withdraw police cases in Bhola, immediately release the arrestees, withdraw the relevant police station's OC and Bhola’s SP, and ban the operation of ISKCON in Bangladesh.
Meanwhile, Paltan police station Officer-in-Charge (OC) Abu Bakar Siddique said,“a large number of policemen were deployed; however, the planned protest event ended rather peacefully.”
During the rally, vehicular movement from Dainik Bangla to Paltan intersections was halted for two hours.
Hefazat organized a similar rally in Chittagong
Meanwhile, members of Hefazat-e-Islam held a similar rally in the port city, also in protest at the Bhola clash.
As part of a nationwide protest program, Hefazat supporters assembled near Jamiatul Falah mosque after Zohr prayer on Tuesday.
While addressing the rally, Hefazat Secretary General Juanyed Babunagari demanded the punishment of Biplob Chandra Shuvo,from whose Facebook ID messages containing derogatory remarks about Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were allegedly sent.
The Hefazat leader also demanded exemplary punishment of the people involved in the shooting that left four people dead and injured scores.
“We will not tolerate offensive remarks about Allah and Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in a Muslim-majority country. Bangladesh is a democratic country and it is our civic right to voice concerns over any incongruity. The countrymen will not tolerate any bloodshed. The devout Muslims have been deeply dismayed as the police fired on a peaceful procession in Bhola. Thousands of people are ready to sacrifice their lives to protect the honor of the Prophet (pbuh),” Babunagari said.
Expressing his condolences to the bereaved families, Babunagari said that people who follow in the footsteps of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) would launch a tougher movement if the perpetrators went unpunished.
“Necessary action should be taken against the SP, the OC and the police personnel responsible for the deaths. Compensation should be given to the families of the deceased while injured should be given proper treatment,” said the Hefazat leader.
Passing through strategic points in the city, the protest march ended at Wasa intersection.
What happened in Bhola ?
On Sunday, four people were killed and more than 200 injured in a clash in Borhanuddin upazila – many of them suffered gunshot wounds.
Police and locals said messages containing derogatory remarks about Allah and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) were sent to several persons from the Facebook ID of Biplob Chandra Shuvo.
Screenshots of the messages went viral on Facebook, triggering condemnation and protests.