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World Huge Bangladesh protest calls for French boycott

15:52  27 october  2020
15:52  27 october  2020 Source:   bbc.com

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Tens of thousands of people have marched through the Bangladeshi capital, Dhaka, demanding a boycott of French goods amid a row over France's tougher stance on radical Islam.

a man standing in front of a crowd with Bubblegum Alley in the background: Police say about 40,000 people took part in the march, which was stopped from reaching the French embassy © EPA Police say about 40,000 people took part in the march, which was stopped from reaching the French embassy

They burned an effigy of President Emmanuel Macron, who has defended cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

Police blocked the marchers from reaching the French embassy.

Mr Macron has become a target in several Muslim-majority countries after his defence of French secularism.

He spoke out after a teacher was beheaded earlier this month for showing cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Paying tribute to the teacher, Mr Macron said France "will not give up our cartoons".

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On Monday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also called for a boycott of French goods.

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In a televised speech, he said Muslims were now "subjected to a lynch campaign similar to that against Jews in Europe before World War II". He said "European leaders should tell the French president to stop his hate campaign".

The backlash led the French foreign ministry to issue a warning to French citizens in Indonesia, Bangladesh, Iraq and Mauritania on Tuesday, advising them to exercise caution.

What happened in Dhaka?

Police estimated that about 40,000 people took part in the march, which was organised by Islami Andolan Bangladesh, one of Bangladesh's largest Islamist parties.

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Protesters chanted "Boycott French products" and called for President Macron to be punished.

"Macron is one of the few leaders who worship Satan," senior Islami Andolon leader Ataur Rahman told protesters.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Protesters vented their anger at remarks made by President Macron © Reuters Protesters vented their anger at remarks made by President Macron

He urged the Bangladeshi government to expel France's ambassador.

"France is the enemy of Muslims. Those who represent them are also our enemies," said another of the group's leaders, Nesar Uddin.

Police used barbed wire to barricade a road about three miles (5km) from the French embassy, keeping marchers away.

What other reaction has there been?

Saudi Arabia has issued an official statement condemning cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, but did not mention France by name.

A foreign ministry statement said the country "rejects any attempt to draw connections between Islam and terrorism" adding that it also "condemned all acts of terrorism, regardless of the perpetrator".

What’s behind the Middle East boycott of French products?

  What’s behind the Middle East boycott of French products? Muslim leaders accuse Macron of using divisive rhetoric for political gain and alienating France’s six million Muslims.Bolstered by social media, the campaign asks Arabs and Muslims not to buy French products in response to President Emmanuel Macron’s statements this month describing Islam as a religion in crisis.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov accused Mr Macron of provoking Muslims.

In a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday, he said the French president was "himself beginning to look like a terrorist".

"By supporting provocations, he covertly calls on Muslims to commit crimes," he said.

Chechnya is a Muslim-majority autonomous republic in southern Russia.

a person standing in front of a store: This placard in a supermarket in Amman, Jordan, tells shoppers that French products are being boycotted © EPA This placard in a supermarket in Amman, Jordan, tells shoppers that French products are being boycotted

In a tweet on Sunday, Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan accused the French president of "attacking Islam", while French products have been removed from some shops in Kuwait, Jordan and Qatar. There have also been protests in a number of other countries, including Iraq, Libya and Syria.

However, European leaders have expressed support for France. Germany spoke of "solidarity" with Mr Macron after Mr Erdogan's comments, with government spokesman Steffen Seibert calling the remarks "defamatory" and "completely unacceptable".

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the Netherlands "stands firmly with France and for the collective values of the European Union", while Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also expressed his "full solidarity" with Mr Macron.

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What's the background?

Teacher Samuel Paty was beheaded on 16 October by 18-year-old Abdullakh Anzorov outside Paris, after presenting Prophet Muhammad cartoons to his pupils during a class about freedom of speech.

His murder came as a trial over the 2015 attack on Charlie Hebdo - a satirical magazine that published the cartoons - got under way.

Depictions of the Prophet Muhammad are widely regarded as taboo in Islam, and are offensive to many Muslims.

But state secularism - or laïcité - is central to France's national identity. Curbing freedom of expression to protect the feelings of one particular community undermines unity, the state says.

Two weeks before the attack, Mr Macron described Islam as a religion "in crisis" and announced new measures to tackle what he called "Islamist separatism".

France has Western Europe's largest Muslim population, and some accuse the authorities of using secularism to target them.

Battling two crises, France's Macron faces defining moment .
Battling two crises, France's Macron faces defining momentBorn as Emmanuel Jean-Michel Frédéric Macron on Dec. 21, 1977, in Amiens, France, he is the son of doctors Françoise Macron-Nogues (physician) and Jean-Michel Macron (professor of neurology).

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