Culture And Media


Bangladesh: Police break up protests against controversial cartoon




Dhaka, 21 Sept. (AKI) - Police in Bangladesh broke up a protest by hundred of Muslims in the capital Dhaka over the publication of a cartoon that they say offended their religion.

A report on the local newspaper The Daily Star said that several hundred activists of six Islamic organisations began the protest march outside the capital's Baitul Mokarram mosque after Friday prayers.

Bangladesh's caretaker government suspended the publication, Alpin, a weekly satire magazine of leading Bengali daily Prothom Alo. The magazine's publishers also apologised and appealed for forgiveness for the drawing.

The cartoon shows a small boy referring to his cat as "Mohammad cat". The image provoked outrage and protestors said that it was a deliberate attempt to ridicule Islam's Prophet Mohammad.

The cartoonist, Arifur Rahman, was arrested on 17 September by the police.

The Daily Star reports that the editors from several leading newspapers including Prothom Alo have appealed for forgiveness.

The editors urged the country's religious leaders or ulema to consider the newspaper's apology and also called for calm and restraint.

Paris-based press freedom group, Reporters Without Borders, has called for the release of Arifur Rahman.

"The play on words had no intention of attacking the Prophet," Reporters Without Borders said "It was a joke about a cultural custom. The government should not yield to pressure from extremist leaders who are trying to politicise the case. Rahman should not be made a scapegoat. He must be freed."

Reports say that a significant number of police have been deployed near the Baitul Mokarram mosque and outside the office of Prothom Alo.

In a statement released on Thursday, the government announced that Prothom Alo's magazine would be suspended as it had "hurt the sentiment of devout Muslims."

The government has asked the daily's publishers to explain in two weeks "why in this circumstance, the magazine ... shall not be banned and legal action not be taken against the publishers."

Bangladesh has been under a state of emergency since January when an army-backed interim government took charge, following months of political violence.


 

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