The country’s 12 religious parties called the protests after the Friday prayers in nearly half a million mosques nationwide, demanding the execution of bloggers they say were behind blasphemous writings against Islam and Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).
One person was killed during the clashes in western district of Jhenidah, district police chief Altaf Hossain told AFP, adding that hundreds of protesters also clashed with ruling party activists.
“The person, most probably a supporter of an Islamic party, died on the way to hospital,” he said.
Fierce clashes also occurred in the port city of Chittagong, the northern city of Bogra and dozens of other cities and towns where police fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters, leaving scores injured, police and local media said.
In Dhaka violence broke out outside the Baitul Mukarram national mosque, where the protesters also attacked around a dozen journalists.
Police tried to thwart the protest by locking the gates of the mosque where thousands of people were performing their weekly Jumma prayers, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
Sayeed Khan, an emergency doctor at Dhaka medical college hospital, told AFP that up to 50 people had been admitted, most injured by rubber bullets.
“Several cases are very critical,” he said.
Tensions have risen in the Muslim-majority nation over the alleged anti-Islamic blog posts by Ahmed Rajib Haider, who was hacked to death last week near his home in the capital Dhaka.
The first-time visitor to Grozny has to be reminded that, until recently, the Chechen capital was often called “the most destroyed city on Earth.” Today, Grozny rises out of the plain like the Emerald City of Oz. The famous Associated Press image of a Russian soldier lighting a cigarette from a pile of burning refuse in the middle of a blown-out street seems a world away.
Friday prayers have finished by the time I find myself standing in the forecourt of Grozny’s Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque. Based on Istanbul’s famous Blue Mosque and constructed by Turkish laborers, the Heart of Chechnya, as it’s officially known, opened four years ago and is said to be the largest mosque in Europe. My guide, Elina, and photographer, Melanie, are told that women aren’t allowed inside the main section of the building today. A sign over the taps in the ablution area informs me politely that my handgun isn’t, either. The mosque is said to be able to hold 10,000 worshipers, but only three stand inside when I cross the threshold—all uniformed members of Chechnya’s ministry of internal affairs. When I emerge after several minutes spent examining the mosque’s cupola—a gaudy derivation of the original, heavy on the bling—I find Melanie wearing her neckerchief on her head.
“I was asked to cover up while I’m here,” she says. “In any case, I’ve been getting looks.” Neither women’s hair nor women’s legs are completely invisible on Grozny’s streets: one sees an occasional woman without a headscarf, usually the same one who’s wearing a miniskirt. But both are much rarer here than elsewhere in the country.
In an upmarket clothing store, several middle-aged women and one young man sit at sewing machines, producing traditional, high-collared men’s shirts and even more conservative women’s fashion. I ask to have a button sewn back on to my jacket—it’s been loose for months—and a customer notices my accent and takes an interest. As he tries on a shirt, he takes his handgun out of his pants and rests it on one of the sewing machines.
Hundreds of worshippers leaving the al-Aqsa Mosque after Friday prayers hurled stones at police officers and rioted near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate.
The demonstrators, protesting against the anti-Islam film that sparked riots across the Middle East, started marching towards the US Consulate but were blocked by police officers who used shock grenades against them. Several officers were lightly injured by stones. Some protesters were detained.
Syrian forces loyal to President Bashar al-Assad shot dead four protesters after Friday prayers, activists reported, while the government said an army officer also died as violence marred a ceasefire brokered by international peace envoy Kofi Annan.
At the United Nations, Russia criticised a U.S.-drafted resolution authorising an advance team to monitor the fragile ceasefire which aims to end 13 months of bloodshed during the uprising against Assad, an ally of Moscow.
However, Western missions said the Security Council would vote on the resolution later on Friday.
Syrians took to the streets across the country in small demonstrations, trusting that the two-day-old truce which is meant to lead to political dialogue would protect them from the army bullets that have frightened off peaceful protesters for months.
Activists said security forces came out in strength in many cities to prevent protesters forming major rallies against Assad, even though the plan of U.N.-Arab League envoy Annan says the government should have pulled its troops back.
Protesters questioned Assad’s commitment to the peace plan which he has accepted. In the Qadam district of Damascus, they held up a placard saying: “Bashar may be able to laugh at the whole world - except for the Syrian people”. Another read: “The new comedy is the ceasefire”.
The British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the anti-Assad Local Coordination Committees said two people were killed as marchers tried to converge on a central square in the city of Hama.
Troops also shot one person dead as worshippers left a mosque in Nawa in the southern Deraa province, where the uprising began. Security forces killed a third in the town of Salqeen in the northwestern province of Idlib, they said, and a fourth died in Deraya, Damascus province.
However, Syria’s state news agency SANA blamed two of the deaths on the opposition, saying an “armed terrorist group” shot dead the man in Salqeen and attributing the death of the Hama protester to a shot fired by a fellow demonstrator.
Syrian security forces fired on anti-government protesters who took to the streets in large numbers after Friday prayers, opposition activists said, defying a nine-month crackdown against dissent.
As many as 17 people were reported killed in violence across the country, according to the Local Coordination Committees, a network of activists that organizes protests and disseminates information about the bloodshed. The official Syrian Arab News Agency denied that anyone was killed or injured and said there were also major demonstrations in support of President Bashar Assad.
It was not possible to verify the conflicting accounts because journalists are heavily restricted in Syria.The United Nations says more than 5,000 people have been killed since the start of major protests in March. The government lays blame for the bloodshed on what it describes as armed terrorist gangs, incited and backed from abroad, and says most of the casualties have been security personnel.
The violence has increased in recent months as a growing number of military defectors and other opposition supporters have taken up arms against the security forces. But human rights activists say the protests remain mostly peaceful.
Amateur video on YouTube appeared to show large gatherings of clapping and chanting demonstrators in opposition strongholds in the provinces of Homs, Hama, Dara, Idlib and in suburbs of Damascus, the capital. The theme of the day’s protests was “The Arab League is Killing Us,” a reflection of mounting frustration over the regional group’s handling of the crisis.