Violent clashes erupt in Bangladesh over anti-Islam film

Violent clashes erupt in Bangladesh over anti-Islam film

Several vehicles burned, including a police van, as portesters announce nationwide strike on Sunday

Indian Muslim women shout slogans against the US on Friday during a protest rally, one of many demonstrations around the world against perceived insults to the Prophet Muhammad. (photo credit: AP/Channi Anand)
Indian Muslim women shout slogans against the US on Friday during a protest rally, one of many demonstrations around the world against perceived insults to the Prophet Muhammad. (photo credit: AP/Channi Anand)

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Officials and witnesses said scores of people were injured Saturday in a clash in Bangladesh’s capital between police and hundreds of Muslims who were protesting a film produced in the United States that denigrates the Prophet Muhammad.

Police fired tear gas and used batons to disperse the stone-throwing protesters, who were from about a dozen Islamic groups, a Dhaka Metropolitan Police official said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.

He said the clash erupted when police attempted to stop the demonstration. Authorities banned all protests near the city’s main Baitul Mokarram mosque starting late Friday to avoid unrest.

The official said dozens of protesters were arrested at the demonstration and inside the nearby National Press Club, where participants took refuge.

Witnesses said the protesters burned several vehicles, including a police van, during the melee.

The protesters announced a nationwide general strike on Sunday to protest the police action.

On Friday, more than 2,000 people marched in Dhaka and burned a makeshift coffin draped with an American flag with an effigy of President Barack Obama.

Here’s a look at protests and events around the world on Friday connected to the anti-Islam film “Innocence of Muslims,” and vulgar caricatures of Muhammad published in a French satirical weekly. At least 49 people, including the US ambassador to Libya, have been killed this month in violence linked to the film, which also has renewed debate over freedom of expression in the US and in Europe.



At least 19 people were killed and nearly 200 injured as protests by tens of thousands turned violent in the cities of Peshawar, Lahore, Karachi and the capital of Islamabad after the government encouraged peaceful demonstrations and declared a national holiday — “Day of Love for the Prophet.”



About 900 people peacefully protested the film in the capital, Kabul, chanting, “Death to America” and burning an effigy of President Barack Obama and a U.S. flag. A few hundred demonstrators also protested inside a mosque in the eastern city of Ghazni.



President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad lashed out at the West over the film. Speaking at a military parade in Tehran, he said: “In return for (allowing) the ugliest insults to the divine messenger, they — the West — raise the slogan of respect for freedom of speech.” He called this explanation “clearly a deception.”



The United States closed its diplomatic missions across Indonesia due to continuing demonstrations over the film. Small and mostly orderly protests were held outside the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, in the cities of Surabaya and Medan, and in other smaller towns. No violence was reported.



About 3,000 people, mostly followers of Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim groups, protested the film and caricatures of the prophet in the southern city of Basra. Demonstrators carried Iraqi flags and posters of Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, chanting, “Death to America” and “No to America.” They burned Israeli and American flags.



About 2,000 Muslims burned effigies of Obama and American flags at a protest after Friday prayers in the capital, Colombo, demanding that the United States ban the film.



Tens of thousands of supporters of the Shiite Hezbollah movement held a raucous protest in the eastern Lebanese city of Baalbek. Later, a few thousand supporters of a hard-line Sunni cleric gathered in the capital, Beirut. Both demonstrations directed outrage at the U.S. and Israel over what they believed was a grave insult to Muhammad.



Police enforced a daylong curfew in parts of Indian-controlled Kashmir’s main city, Srinagar, and chased away protesters of the anti-Islam film. Authorities also temporarily blocked cellphone and Internet services to prevent viewing the film clips.



Several hundred people gathered in the city of Freiburg in southwestern Germany to protest the film, while a few hundred demonstrated in the western city of Muenster. The Interior Ministry postponed a poster campaign aimed at countering radical Islam among young people due to tensions caused by the online video insulting Islam. Germany is home to an estimated 4 million Muslims.



About 70 people gathered outside the U.S. Embassy in the capital Oslo to protest the film, shouting, “Obama, Obama, we’re all Osama!”



Constitutional law professor Harry Roque of the University of the Philippines defied a ban by university officials and showed students the film’s 14-minute trailer. He said the film was “trash and nothing but trash,” and will not convince people Islam is evil.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

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