DHAKA (AFP) - Tens of thousands of protesters marched through the Bangladesh capital on Tuesday (Oct 27) calling for a boycott of French products and burning an effigy of President Emmanuel Macron after he defended cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Police estimated that more than 40,000 people took part in the march organised by an Islamist party which was halted before it could get close to the French embassy in Dhaka.
Hundreds of officers used a barbed-wire barricade to stop the protesters who broke up without violence.
The French leader has been the target of protests in several countries over his comments, made after a teacher was decapitated for showing the cartoons to his pupils.
The rally was organised by Islami Andolon Bangladesh (IAB), one of the country’s largest Islamist parties, and started at Bangladesh’s biggest mosque.
Protesters chanted “Boycott French products” and called for Macron to be punished.
“Macron is one of the few leaders who worship Satan,” Ataur Rahman, a senior Islami Andolon told the rally at the Baitul Mukarram national mosque.
Rahman called on the Bangladesh government to “kick out” the French ambassador while another leader, Hasan Jamal, said activists would “tear down every brick of that building” if the envoy was not ordered out.
“France is the enemy of Muslims. Those who represent them are also our enemies,” said Nesar Uddin, a young leader of the group.
Even after the rally was halted, demonstrators marched down other streets chanting “Boycott France” and “Macron will pay a high price”.
The French president’s comments on Islam have already led to a diplomatic showdown with Turkey. Macron said the school teacher “was killed because Islamists want our future”.