At Least 50,000 People Participate in Anti-France Protest in Bangladesh

In Bangladesh at least 50,000 people took to the streets of the capital Dhaka Monday to protest French President Emmanuel Macron, who has defended criticism of Islam as a right of freedom of speech. The demonstrators demanded a boycott of French products and tried to march to the French embassy but were blocked by police.  France is an important trading partner and a major aid provider for Bangladesh.  Police estimated that about 50,000 people participated in the protest, but organizers said more than 100,000 people had gathered for the rally.Bangladeshi Muslims protesting the French president’s support of secular laws allowing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad march burn an effigy of French President Emmanuel Macron in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Nov.2, 2020.Macron triggered protests in the Muslim world, including Bangladesh, when he said France would never renounce its right to caricature. His comment came after the decapitation of teacher Samuel Paty earlier in October who had shown students a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad republished by the Paris-based satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo.  Two other attacks that French authorities have attributed to Islamist terrorism have followed.    Macron sounded a more empathetic tone in an interview with Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera on Saturday, but again emphasized freedom of speech.    “I can understand that people could be shocked by the caricatures, but I will never accept that violence can be justified.”  

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