Dhaka, Bangladesh — Thousands of people marched in Bangladesh’s capital on Thursday to demand that the governments of Bangladesh and India officially condemn the comments made by two Indian ruling party officials who were seen as disparaging the prophet Mohammed of Islam.
The march started at the country’s main Baitul Mukarram mosque, but was stopped by police on their way to the Indian embassy, a few miles away.
The protesters demanded that Muslim-majority countries boycott Indian products and sever ties with New Delhi, and that Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina publicly condemn comments made earlier by the two officials of India’s Bharatiya Janata party. Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Hasina has maintained warm relations with India. Information and Broadcasting Minister Hasan Mahmud told a group of Indian journalists that the dispute is an internal Indian matter, according to Indian media reports.
As they marched, the protesters chanted “Down with Modi” and “Insult to Islam, will not be tolerated”. Many carried placards that read “We love Mohammed.”
After police halted the march, a group of five people were allowed to go to the Indian embassy, said Shahidul Islam Kabir, a spokesman for the protest’s sponsors, Islami Andolon Bangladesh. The group promised to continue the demonstrations.
The ruling Indian party has suspended one of its officials and expelled the other from the country, but protesters say the actions are not enough.
At least five Arab countries have condemned the comments and made official protests against India. Pakistan and Afghanistan also reacted strongly to the comments made by the two party officials. They follow the increasing violence against India’s Muslim minority by Hindu nationalists who have been encouraged by Modi’s silence on such attacks since his election in 2014.