Bangladesh police open fire on protesters furious at Facebook messages ‘defaming the Prophet Mohammad’ and kill four
- Thousands called for execution of a young Hindu man for defaming the prophet
- Police claim they opened fire in self-defence after crowds threw rocks at them
- Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina said fake online posts had created ‘anarchy’
- Doctor said at least seven of the 50 taken to hospital were fighting for their lives
At least four people were killed and up to 50 injured today when police opened fire on 20,000 protesting against Facebook messages they claim defame the Prophet Mohammad.
They demonstrated at a prayer ground in Borhanuddin on Bhola island to demand the execution of a young Hindu man charged with inciting religious tension through online messages.
Police said they opened fire in self-defence after some of the crowd threw rocks at officers.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called for calm and said the account of the Hindu man had been hacked by a Muslim to ‘spread lies.’
A protester receives medical treatment after 20,000 Muslims took to the streets of Borhanuddin on the island of Bhola on Sunday
A demonstrator with pellet-sized wounds riddling his body lies in the hospital after Sunday’s violence
‘We saw rumours are being spread in Facebook to create an environment of anarchy. Who are they? What is their intention?,’ Hasina said in a speech to her political party’s members.
‘I asked our countrymen to have patience. And those who want to fish in troubled waters, we will find them and take action against them.’
Mob attacks over online posts perceived to be blasphemous have emerged as a major headache for security forces in Bangladesh, where Muslims make up some 90 percent of the country’s 168 million people.
‘At least four people were killed and up to 50 people were injured,’ police inspector Salahuddin Mia told AFP.
He said extra police and border guards were rushed to the island on helicopters and deployed.
The death toll is expected to rise, with local doctor Tayebur Rahman telling AFP at least seven of the 43 people taken to hospital were fighting for their lives.
Bhola’s deputy police chief Sheikh Sabbir told AFP the man came to the police station on Saturday, claiming his Facebook account was hacked.
‘We also suspect that his account was hacked and these contents were spread through Facebook messenger,’ he said. However, the charges have not been dropped.
Men who were injured in the protests receive treatment. The death toll is expected to rise, with local doctor Tayebur Rahman saying at least seven of the 43 people taken to hospital were fighting for their lives
In 2016, angry Muslims attacked Hindu temples in an eastern town over a Facebook post that allegedly mocked one of Islam’s holiest sites.
In 2012, Muslim mobs torched Buddhist monasteries, houses and shops in the coastal Cox’s Bazar district following a Buddhist youth’s alleged defamatory photo post of the Koran.
Bangladesh has also experienced a number of attacks on people from religious minorities, secular bloggers, publishers, writers and foreigners, many claimed by Islamist militants.