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Police kill protesters as Bangladesh crisis grows

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Issue 2352

More than 30 people have been killed after police and Islamist protesters clashed in Bangladesh.

Police used stun grenades and rubber bullets to disperse a protest organised by the group Hefazat-e Islam in the capital Dhaka last Sunday.

Tens of thousands of Islamists had gathered to call for stronger Islamic policies.

These include the introduction of blasphemy laws and the repeal of  laws on women’s rights. 

The brutality of the state’s response underlies an ongoing battle between the Islamists and the Awami League-led government. 

State-organised war crimes tribunals have put leading Islamists in the dock for atrocities committed during the 1971 civil war.

Abdul Quader Mollah, leader of the Jamaat-e-Islami group, was sentenced to life imprisonment earlier this year for murder and rape.

A mass movement has been occupying Shahbagh Square, the central point of Dhaka, demanding more trials and harsher sentences. 

Many demand the banning of Islamist political groups. 

The leaders of this movement are articulate and middle class.

Those on the streets last weekend came largely from the madrassahs, where poorer people send their children for schooling.

The Islamists suspect that the trials and the movement are a plot by the Awami League to wipe out its political opponents. 

The main opposition party, the BNP, relies heavily on the Jamaat group for support.

The Islamic protest comes as thousands of workers have been on the streets demanding justice for those killed in the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory. 

The week of demonstrations proves there is a massive political vacuum in Bangladesh which many forces are trying to fill.

The left needs to draw those who rage against putting profit before people into a movement that can challenge the rich. 

This can attract those who look to the Islamists.







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