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ISLAM

10,000 Bangladeshis in French cartoon march

About 10,000 Bangladeshis took to the streets of Dhaka on Friday to demonstrate against an anti-Islam film made in the US and cartoons in a French satirical magazine caricaturing the Prophet Muhammad.

The protesters, many carrying banners from half a dozen Islamist groups, burnt an effigy of Barack Obama outside the national Baitul Mokarram Mosque, the country's largest, after Friday prayers.

They also set fire to a French flag as they carried placards and banners reading "Obama, you are a cheater", "Protest the disgrace of Prophet Muhammed!"

Security was tightened around the protest area with the deployment of hundreds of police and elite Rapid Action Battalion, armoured personnel carriers and water cannon.

French authorities in Bangladesh also shut down three cultural centres and the French embassy in the capital, police said.

About 90% of Bangladesh's 153 million people are Muslims.

The government has condemned the film and blocked the video-sharing website YouTube, where the film was uploaded.

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ISLAM

Erdogan calls French separatism bill ‘guillotine’ of democracy

Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday denounced a planned French law designed to counter "Islamist separatism" as a "guillotine" of democracy.

Erdogan calls French separatism bill 'guillotine' of democracy
Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as "anti-Muslim". Photo: Adem ALTAN/AFP

The draft legislation has been criticised both inside France and abroad for stigmatising Muslims and giving the state new powers to limit speech and religious groups.

“The adoption of this law, which is openly in contradiction of human rights, freedom of religion and European values, will be a guillotine blow inflicted on French democracy,” said Erdogan in a speech in Ankara.

The current version of the planned law would only serve the cause of extremism, putting NGOs under pressure and “forcing young people to choose between their beliefs and their education”, he added.

READ ALSO: What’s in France’s new law to crack down on Islamist extremism?

“We call on the French authorities, and first of all President (Emmanuel) Macron, to act sensibly,” he continued. “We expect a rapid withdrawal of this bill.”

Erdogan also said he was ready to work with France on security issues and integration, but relations between the two leaders have been strained for some time.

France’s government is in the process of passing new legislation to crack down on what it has termed “Islamist separatism”, which would give the state more power to vet and disband religious groups judged to be threats to the nation.

Erdogan has already denounced the proposed measures as “anti-Muslim”.

READ ALSO: Has Macron succeeded in creating an ‘Islam for France’?

Last October, Erdogan questioned Macron’s “mental health”, accusing him of waging a “campaign of hatred” against Islam, after the French president defended the right of cartoonists to caricature the prophet Mohammed.

The two countries are also at odds on a number of other issues, including Libya, Syria and the eastern Mediterranean.

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