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.
Turkish President Abdullah Gül has warned Muslim countries against seeking religious-based politics, saying parties that promise such rule would ultimately harm the faith.
If a political party that comes out in the name of Islam fails, it will defame and humiliate the religion itself, Gül told a Tunisian television channel. “If one comes forward, saying one is ‘religious’ and then fails, what will be harmed? Thus, one has more responsibility [to be wise]. Furthermore, policy should not be conducted based on religion,” he said. “If religion directly becomes a tool for politics, that would hurt religion a lot,” he said.
“Because of this, Turkey does not have religious parties,” Anatolia news agency quoted him as saying. Still, Gül said the rise of Islamist parties reflected “the flow of the people to their own channel.”
The statements echo previous comments from Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who advised Egyptians last September to not fear secularism. “I suggest that Egypt should have a secular constitution, because secularity is not an enemy of religion,” Erdoğan said in Cairo. “Do not fear secularity. I hope the new regime in Egypt will be a secular one.”
Gül also advised Muslim countries to adopt democracy, accountability and transparency, saying democracy and Islam did not contradict each other.