On November 2nd, Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh issued a 24-hour ultimatum to the government to shut down the Embassy of France in Dhaka.
Junaid Babunagari, secretary general of the organization, issued the ultimatum after calling off their march and siege program near Malibag-Mouchak flyover of Shantinagar.
Prior to that, a rally of several hundreds of Hefazat leaders and activists, who gathered in front of the national mosque Baitul Mukarram, started marching to lay siege on the French embassy in Dhaka.
The rally was called off after the rally crossed Bijoy Nagar intersection, following a police barricade.
“Showing respect to the duty of law enforcement officials, journalists, and the emotion of the participating Muslim brothers, we are stopping here today,” Junaid Babunagari said while addressing the rally from a pick-up van.
He also warned:
“We will not stop here in our next program. We will go to the embassy and destroy it if our demands are not met.
“[French president] Emmanuel Macron should beg for forgiveness. We will not return home until the government presses home the demands. Statues made in the name of sculptures should be taken down,” he added.
Before the march began, Junaid Babunagari demanded introducing capital punishment for anyone found guilty of insulting Prophet Muhammad in Bangladesh.
He also demanded that the Bangladesh government sever all diplomatic ties with France in protest of the display of a caricature of Prophet Muhammad.
He also urged all the Muslim majority countries as well as OIC (Organization of Islamic Cooperation) affiliated countries to cut all the diplomatic ties with France.
“France insulted our Prophet (pbuh). We ask everyone to boycott French products. Keep French products under your feet,” he added.
More than 20 European Muslim organizations have called on French President Emmanuel Macron to end his “divisive rhetoric”, as the fallout between France and the Muslim world continues.
In an open letter published on October 31st, the organizations from several countries including the Netherlands, Finland and Italy said the French leader has failed to provide “strong moral leadership” following the killing of a teacher and three worshippers in a church in Nice.
“Maligning Islam and your own Muslim citizens, closing mainstream mosques, Muslim and humanitarian rights organizations, and using this as an opportunity to stir up further hatred, has given further encouragement to racists and violent extremists,” the signatories said, urging Macron to rethink what they called his “unilateral assault on Muslims, Islam and Prophet Muhammad”.
“The moral high ground that we invite you to, is to reject hatred, marginalization and divisive rhetoric, and use your leadership to bring people together.”
While Muslims in France have condemned the killing of the teacher, they have also expressed fears of collective punishment amid a government crackdown targeting Islamic organizations and attacks by vigilante groups on mosques.
In their letter, the signatories denounced the French government’s crackdown, including the closure of mosques and charities authorities had accused of inciting hatred, among other things.
“This opportunistic behavior undermines the principles of the rule of law by closing down associations based on political motivations and without sound legal procedures,” they said.
French President Emmanuel Macron, in an exclusive interview with Al Jazeera, said his words were distorted, stressing that political leaders had intentionally led people to believe the caricatures were a creation of the French state.
“The caricatures are not governmental projects, but emerged from free and independent newspapers that are not affiliated with the government,” he said.
“I understand the sentiments being expressed and I respect them. But you must understand my role right now, it’s to do two things: to promote calm and also to protect these rights,” Macron said.
“I will always defend in my country the freedom to speak, to write, to think, to draw,” he added.
He also said the “radical Islam” he was trying to fight was a threat to all people, especially Muslims.
“Today in the world there are people who distort Islam and in the name of this religion that they claim to defend, they kill, they slaughter … today there is violence practised by some extremist movements and individuals in the name of Islam,” Macron said.
“Of course, this is a problem for Islam because Muslims are the first victims,” he added. “More than 80 percent of the victims of terrorism are Muslims and this is a problem for all of us.”
In France itself there’s a standoff between Armenians and Azerbaijani’s, since Paris supports Yerevan in the fighting for Nagorno-Karabakh.
There haven’t been any other attacks, but there have been protests against the treatment of Muslims.
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