DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Thousands of members of an Islamist group rallied in Bangladesh’s capital on Friday to protest recent violence in Sweden involving an anti-Muslim far-right group and fresh clashes at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque.
Protesters from the conservative Islami Andolon Bangladesh group, which supports the introduction of Islamic law in the Muslim-majority secular country, carried banners and placards reading “Sweden Police, Shame, Shame!” and “Stop Brutality in Aqsa Mosque."
Many also carried the flags of Bangladesh and Palestine during a procession. Bangladesh does not have formal diplomatic relations with Israel and supports the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
The protesters marched peacefully through streets of Dhaka outside the country’s main Baitul Mokarram Mosque following Friday’s weekly prayers.
The conservative group has in the past organized similar protests to denounce France’s president and his staunch support of secular laws that deemed caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad protected under the nation’s freedom of speech.
On Friday, Israeli police stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City, the third holiest site in Islam, after Palestinian youths hurled stones at a gate where they were stationed.
The renewed violence at the site, which is also sacred to Jews, came despite Israel temporarily halting Jewish visits, which are seen by the Palestinians as a provocation.
Last weekend, violence broke out in southern Sweden despite police moving a rally by a far-right group, which was planning to burn a copy of the Quran among other things, to a new location as a preventive measure.
Moulana Imtiaz Alam, leader of the Islami Andolon Bangladesh, urged the Bangladeshi government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to officially denounce such acts. He also demanded the Organization of Islamic Cooperation to raise its voice.
“We ask the OIC and the Muslim countries to play an effective role against the misery of the Muslims and defamation of the Quran,” he said. “If the Bangladesh government does not take any steps in the OIC and the United Nations, we will conclude that they are working on behalf of Israel,” he said.