Tens of thousands of residents took to the streets of Dhaka on Friday, October 30, in demonstrations against French President Emmanuel Macron's recent comments regarding 'Islamic separatists' and the French defense of the right to publish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad. Protesters marched through Dhaka with chants calling for a boycott of French products as well as claiming that Macron is responsible for recent Islamophobia.
The Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) religious organization has announced plans to hold further demonstrations in Dhaka on Sunday, November 1. Demonstrators are expected to rally at the National Press Club in the Motijheel area of the capital before marching to the French embassy. No timings have yet been announced for the protest. However, similar rallies in recent days have begun at 15:00 (local time).
The IAB has organized several demonstrations in Dhaka over the last week in protest at comments made by French President Emmanuel Macron following the murder of teacher Samuel Paty by an alleged Islamic extremist in a northern Paris suburb on October 16 and the French government's response to the attack. On Tuesday, October 27, more than 40,000 people are reported to have participated in a march to the French embassy in Dhaka, with a smaller number joining a similar protest on Thursday, October 29. The demonstrations have caused disruptions in the capital, but both passed peacefully.
Localized disruptions and an increased security presence are likely in Dhaka in the near term.
Tensions over the response of the French government to recent Islamist attacks and terrorism in the country have been increasing since the murder of teacher Samuel Paty by an alleged Islamist extremist in the northern Paris suburb of Conflans-Sainte-Honorine on October 16. The attack prompted an outpouring of support in France and a strong response from the government which saw dozens arrested and several organizations and mosques closed in a widespread crackdown on alleged Islamic extremism. However, comments from President Emmanuel Macron regarding religious rights and freedom of expression and the display of controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad at solidarity rallies following the attack have since prompted accusations of Islamophobia from several Muslim political and religious leaders around the world.
Dozens of protests over the crackdown and French government policies have since been held outside French embassies and consulates in multiple countries over the last week, including Turkey, Bangladesh, Iran, Mali, Mauritania, Libya, Pakistan, and Indonesia, some of which have drawn thousands of participants. There have also been widespread calls for a boycott of French goods, particularly foodstuffs, in Muslim-majority countries, with the protest being supported by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and several other Muslim leaders.
Those in Dhaka are advised to monitor developments and avoid the area around the French embassy on Sunday due to the likely disruptions and risk of crowd disturbances. Travelers should avoid all protests and political gatherings in Bangladesh and heed any directives issued by local authorities.
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