4 dead in Bangladesh blasphemy protests

bangladesh_blasphemy_protests_2013_05-05.jpg

Islamist protestors run as Bangladeshi police fire rubber bullets towards demonstrators during clashes with Islamists in Dhaka on May 5, 2013.

Credit:

MUNIR UZ ZAMAN

Thousands of Islamist protesters pushing for blasphemy laws clashed with Bangladesh police today, leaving at least four people dead.

Police in Dhaka used tear gas and rubber bullets against activists from the group Hefazat-e-Islam, who want tighter censorship, more segregation of men and women and death to those who have insulted Islam.

Protesters responded by torching vehicles and shops, attacking government offices and beating policemen with sticks.

"At least three were killed, including one who was shot," police inspector Mozammel Haq told AFP, adding almost 100 more had been injured.

The death toll was later raised to at least four.

According to police, up to 200,000 protesters marched along six highways to Motijheel, Dhaka's main commercial district, where they rallied until 7 p.m. local time.

The protest was unrelated to the recent building collapse that killed hundreds of people.

Hefajat leaders have threatened to oust the government if their demands aren't met.

But government leaders have rejected demands for blasphemy laws, saying the Muslim-majority nation is governed by secular liberal laws.