Anger erupts in Bangladesh, India over comments about Islam

DHAKA, Bangladesh: Thousands of people marched in Bangladesh’s capital and in parts of India on Friday to urge Muslim-majority nations to cut ties with India and boycott its products unless it punishes two governing party officials for comments deemed derogatory to Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Two protesters died of gunshot injuries sustained during clashes with police in the eastern Indian city of Ranchi, the capital of Jharkhand state, said Prabhat Kumar, a senior doctor at the Rajendra Institute of Medical Sciences, on Saturday. Another 10 people were being treated for various injuries at the hospital.

Authorities imposed a curfew on Friday night in parts of Ranchi after clashes between protesters and police left six officers injured, police said.

The protesters in Dhaka also criticized their country’s government for not publicly condemning the comments made last week by the two officials in Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s governing Bharatiya Janata Party.

One official has been suspended and the other expelled after the BJP denounced insults of religious figures, but protesters in Bangladesh and India said the actions were not enough.

In Bangladesh, they marched after Friday prayers through streets near the main Baitul Mukarram Mosque in downtown Dhaka. Many chanted slogans against Modi.

“The global Muslim community has been united. We ask the whole world to boycott Indian products,” said Moulana Imtiaz Alam, leader of Islami Andolan Bangladesh, a grouping of Islamist parties that support the introduction of Islamic law in the country.

Alam called for the two Indian officials to be arrested and punished.

In India, thousands of Muslims took to the streets after Friday prayers and hurled rocks at police in several towns and cities.

Police used wooden batons and tear gas to disperse protesters in Hyderabad, Saharanpur, Prayagraj, Moradabad and Kanpur. Some demonstrators hurled rocks at security forces from rooftops, TV images showed.

In Prayagraj in northern Uttar Pradesh state, the protesters set several motorcycles and pushcarts on fire and damaged a police vehicle on Friday. Police used batons and tear gas to disperse them.