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02 Nov 2020 | 01:36 AM UTC

Bangladesh: Anti-French protesters gather in Dhaka November 2 /update 1

Activists gather in Dhaka and plan to march to French Embassy on November 2; associated disruptions and heightened security presence likely

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transportation
BGD

Event

Several hundred activists gathered in Dhaka on Monday morning, November 2, to urge the Bangladesh government to officially announce a boycott of French products in protest of France's support for displaying a caricature of Prophet Muhammad. The activists associated with the Hefazat-e-Islam Islamist Advocacy group gathered in front of the Baitul Mukarram National Mosque and planned to march towards the French embassy.

Disruptions to overland transport and a heightened security presence are expected in the vicinity of the march. Further unrest over the issue in the near term cannot be ruled out.

Context

Tensions over the response of the French government to recent Islamist attacks and terrorism in the country have been increasing since the murder of teacher Samuel Paty by an alleged Islamist extremist in the northern Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on October 16. The attack prompted an outpouring of support in France and a strong response from the government which saw dozens arrested and several organizations and mosques closed in a widespread crackdown on alleged Islamic extremism. However, comments from President Emmanuel Macron regarding religious rights and freedom of expression and the display of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad at solidarity rallies following the attack have since prompted accusations of Islamophobia from several Muslim political and religious leaders around the world.

Dozens of protests over the crackdown and French government policies have since been held outside French embassies and consulates in multiple countries over the last week, including Turkey, Bangladesh, Iran, Mali, Mauritania, Libya, Pakistan, and Indonesia, some of which have drawn thousands of participants. There have also been widespread calls for a boycott of French goods, particularly foodstuffs, in Muslim-majority countries, with the protest being supported by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several other Muslim leaders.

Advice

Those in Dhaka are advised to monitor developments and avoid the vicinity of the march due to the likely disruptions and risk of crowd disturbances. Travelers should avoid all protests and political gatherings in Bangladesh and heed any directives issued by local authorities.

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