Four shot dead in Bangladesh protest

Updated 24 February 2013
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Four shot dead in Bangladesh protest

DHAKA: Activists demanding the execution of bloggers they accuse of blasphemy clashed with police in Bangladesh for a third straight day yesterday, and at least four protesters were killed when police opened fire.
Up to 3,000 protesters, including students from religious schools known as madrassas and supporters of the main opposition party, barricaded a highway at Singair in the central district of Manikganj, police said.
“They attacked us with machetes, sticks, bricks and firearms from three sides when we tried to clear the barricade. We fired back in self-defense,” Mizanur Rahman, deputy police chief of Manikganj, said, adding at least 40 people were injured including policemen.
“The imam of the local mosque used a loudspeaker to rally the protesters. They were shouting slogans for the execution of the bloggers, accusing them of being non-believers and atheists,” Rahman said.
Khalilur Rahman, residential medical officer of Singair Hospital, said three young people died of bullet wounds there. A fourth person who was shot died after he was transferred to a Dhaka clinic, police said.
Among the injured, 18 suffered bullet wounds, the medical officer said.
Fifteen people were injured, three by bullets, in another clash between police, ruling party supporters and radicals in the southeastern resort district of Cox’s Bazaar, said private television Maasranga.
The violence broke out as 12 small parties, backed by the Jamaat-e-Islami and main opposition Bangladesh Nationalist Party, called a nationwide strike in protest at Friday’s police action against radicals.
Four people were killed, three in police shooting, and about 200 injured during Friday’s protests by tens of thousands of Islamists demanding the hanging of bloggers whom they say blasphemed Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.
Tensions have risen over allegedly anti-Islamic blog posts by Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death last week near his home in Dhaka.
In recent weeks Haider and fellow bloggers had launched massive protests demanding a ban on the Jamaat-e-Islami, and the execution of its leaders for alleged war crimes in the 1971 independence struggle against Pakistan.
Since Haider’s death, Bangladeshi social media has been flooded with his alleged blog posts and with those by other bloggers mocking Islam, triggering protests by a number of Islamic groups and clerics.
The government has warned of tough steps against those who incite social tension, and urged newspapers and blogs not to publish defamatory writings against the Prophet Muhammad.
It has cracked down on anti-Islam blogs and also given police protection to some bloggers in the wake of Haider’s murder.
Police have yet to comment on a motive for Haider’s killing. But his brother said Haider was targeted by Jamaat’s student wing for his online activities.
The killing of Haider was the second attack in Dhaka in less than a month against a blogger critical of Islam and Islamist groups.


French yellow vests protest in Paris amid tighter security

Updated 23 March 2019
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French yellow vests protest in Paris amid tighter security

  • The Champs-Elysees was almost empty Saturday except for a huge police presence
  • Paris police detained 51 people by early afternoon, issued 29 fines and conducted 4,688 “preventive checks” on protesters entering the capital

PARIS: Thousands of French yellow vest demonstrators were marching through Paris on Saturday as authorities enforced bans on protests in certain areas and displayed enhanced security measures to avoid a repeat of last week’s riots in the capital.
The crowd gathered peacefully Saturday at Denfert-Rochereau Square in southern Paris and then headed north. The protesters are expected to finish Saturday’s march in the tourist-heavy neighborhood of Montmartre around its signature monument, the hilltop Sacre-Coeur Cathedral.
French authorities have banned protests from the Champs-Elysees Avenue in Paris and the central neighborhoods of several other cities including Bordeaux, Toulouse, Marseille and Nice in the south, and Rouen in western France.
The Champs-Elysees was almost empty Saturday except for a huge police presence. Scores of shops were looted and ransacked last weekend, and some were set on fire by protesters. Fear of more violence certainly kept tourists away, and police shut down the Champs-Elysees subway stations as a precaution.
Paris police detained 51 people by early afternoon, issued 29 fines and conducted 4,688 “preventive checks” on protesters entering the capital.
In Nice, police dispersed a few hundred protesters who gathered on a central plaza. The city was placed under high security measures as Chinese President Xi Jinping was expected to stay overnight on Sunday as part of his state visit to France.
The new Paris police chief, Didier Lallement, who took charge following the destruction wrought by last week’s protests, said specific police units have been created to react faster to any violence.
About 6,000 police officers were deployed in the capital on Saturday and two drones were helping to monitor the demonstrations. French authorities also deployed soldiers to protect sensitive sites, allowing police forces to focus on maintaining order during the protests.
President Emmanuel Macron on Friday dismissed criticism from opposition leaders regarding the involvement of the military, saying they are not taking over police duties.
“Those trying to scare people, or to scare themselves, are wrong,” he said in Brussels.
Christelle Camus, a yellow vest protester from a southern suburb of Paris, called using French soldiers to help ensure security “a great nonsense.”
“Since when do soldiers face a population? We are here in France. You would say that we are here in (North) Korea or in China. I never saw something like this,” she said.
Last week’s surge in violence came as support for the 4-month-old anti-government yellow vest movement has been dwindling, mostly as a reaction to the riots by some protesters.
The protests started in November to oppose fuel tax hikes but have expanded into a broader rejection of Macron’s economic policies, which protesters say favor businesses and the wealthy over ordinary French workers. Macron countered by dropping the fuel tax hike and holding months of discussions with the public on France’s stagnant wages, high taxes and high unemployment.
The yellow vest movement was named after the fluorescent garments that French motorists must carry in their vehicles for emergencies.