Anti-France protests in Bangladesh draw thousands

Dhaka (AFP) –


Thousands of protesters across Bangladesh vented their fury at Emmanuel Macron on Friday, some burned an effigy of the French president as anger flared over his tough stance on Islamic extremism.

Macron defended freedom of expression and condemned Islamist violence earlier this month after the beheading of a teacher in Paris who showed pupils a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed, prompting a backlash across the Muslim world.

France remains on edge after a knife-wielding man killed three people at a church in the southern city of Nice on Thursday, which the French leader described as an "Islamist terrorist attack".

Muslim worshippers came out of Friday prayers in mosques across the Bangladeshi capital and chanted: "We are all soldiers of Prophet Mohammed".

They also called for a boycott of French goods and for Macron to be punished, with some burning a effigy of the leader.

Police said 12,000 people took part in the Dhaka rally, but independent observers and organisers said there were many more.

A poster of Macron was set alight in the port city of Chittagong, where authorities said another 4,000 people took part in protests.

Smaller rallies were held in other towns across the Muslim-majority nation of more than 160 million people.

Macron's comments have already prompted denunciations from several Muslim countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's office vowed to take "legal and diplomatic action" over the cartoon, while the country's NTV broadcaster said Ankara had summoned a senior diplomat from the French embassy.

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called Macron's defence of the publications a "stupid act" and an "insult" to those who voted for him.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan on Wednesday wrote to leaders of Muslim countries calling on them to act together against Islamophobia.

Earlier this week, more than 40,000 took part in an anti-France demonstration in Dhaka, and the country's embassy there has been given extra security.