Bangladesh Islamists rally against bloggers

Anbarasan Ethirajan reports from the midst of the rally in Dhaka

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Islamist groups in Bangladesh have held a rally in the capital, Dhaka, calling for tough curbs on bloggers who insult the Islamic religion.

Police say 100,000 people gathered for the rally after a "long march" from around the country to take part.

A 45-year-old man was killed on Friday when some activists clashed with supporters of the ruling Awami League.

Bus and river transport was halted and groups opposed to the rally announced a day-long shutdown.

The marchers called for a new blasphemy law, with the provision of the death penalty to punish those who insulted Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

Their group, Hefajat-e-Islam, put forward a total of 13 demands, criticising the government for not taking action against what it called "atheist bloggers".

The marchers set off for the capital soon after Friday prayers from the southern city of Chittagong and other parts of the country, the BBC's Anbarasan Ethirajan reports from Dhaka.

Blogger murdered

In February, blogger Ahmed Rajib Haider was killed outside his home amid tensions over a tribunal judging war crimes committed during the 1971 independence war.

Mr Haider was among a group of bloggers who had called for the execution of Islamist leaders for crimes committed in the 1971 war. Abdul Kader Mullah, leader of the main Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, was jailed for life weeks before.

Earlier this week, four bloggers were arrested on suspicion of harming religious sentiment through their work.

One of the four had been attacked in January.

The arrests prompted eight blog operators to black out their websites, with liberals accusing the government of yielding to Islamist pressure.

There have been several clashes in recent weeks between Islamists and supporters of the Awami League.

The man killed on Friday was an Awami League supporter. Ten other people were hurt when police opened fire in the Kamrangirchar area of the capital.

Islamists accused the government of trying to foil Saturday's rally in Dhaka by suspending transport links to the capital, our correspondent says.

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