|Police try to detain an activist of Hifazat-e-Islam during a clash in front of the national mosque in Dhaka, May 5, 2013.|
Police worked Monday to clear Dhaka, Bangladesh’s capital, of any remaining protesters, a day after tens of thousands of members of the radical Islamic group Hefajat-e-Islam took to the streets.
Islamists blocked roadways and fought with police late Sunday, while shouting “God is great” and calling for the Awami League-led government to enact stronger Islamic policies.
The newly formed Hifazat-e-Islam has put forth a list of 13 demands including mandatory Islamic education for all, the segregation of men and women, and death to so-called "atheists".
Former Bangladeshi law minister and current Supreme Court senior advocate Kamal Hossein said such demands will get little support in a country that - despite being 90 percent Muslim - has remained secular since independence.
“I can honestly say that there is complete consensus in the country on non-communal democracy and not getting communalism revived again, not seeing religion mixed up with politics," Hossein said. "Pakistan is having enough difficulties with it for people to just look across [and see how they are faring]. And I have spoken to people from Pakistan and they say ‘you are so fortunate to have been able to have non-communal politics.”
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by Aru Pande