Tens of thousands of protesters march through the Bangladesh capital in the biggest anti-France rally since President Emmanuel Macron defended cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Muslims across the world have reacted furiously to Macron’s robust defense of the right to mock religion following the murder of a French schoolteacher who had shown his pupils cartoons of the prophet.
Protesters in Dhaka set alight an effigy of Macron during the march in which 40,000 people take part, according to police.
Hundreds of armed officers use a barbed-wire barricade to stop the demonstrators, who disperse without violence before they can get close to the French embassy in the Bangladeshi capital.
The rally, called by Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB), one of the country’s largest Islamist parties, starts at the biggest mosque in the nation, which is around 90 percent Muslim.
“Boycott French products,” demonstrators chant as they call for Macron to be punished.
Ataur Rahman, a senior Islami Andolon member, tells the rally at the Baitul Mukarram national mosque: “Macron is one of the few leaders who worship Satan.”
Rahman calls on the Bangladesh government to “kick out” the French ambassador while another protest leader, Hasan Jamal, says activists will “tear down every brick of that building” if the envoy is not ordered out.
“France is the enemy of Muslims. Those who represent them are also our enemies,” says Nesar Uddin, a young leader of the group.
Even after the rally is halted, demonstrators march down other streets chanting, “Boycott France” and “Macron will pay a high price.”