Dhaka – Police in Bangladesh said they arrested at least 42 demonstrators in the capital Dhaka as Islamists enforced a nationwide strike on Sunday to protest an anti-Islam film that insulted the Prophet Muhammad.
The daylong shutdown announced by an alliance of 12 Islamic parties began at 06:00 and passed off mostly peacefully in the first six hours except for a few isolated clashes between police and protesters.
Many schools and businesses remained closed while traffic in Dhaka was thin amid tight security.
Deputy Commissioner of Police Nurul Islam said the government deployed about 10 000 riot police to prevent trouble during the general strike, which the Islamists called on Saturday following the interception by police of anti-US processions in Dhaka.
Some Muslims in Bangladesh began street agitation last week after the release of the US-made film Innocence of Muslims. The film sparked violence across the Muslim world.
They were also protesting at the publication of cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad in France.
Bangladesh recently blocked access to the YouTube website, which hosts excerpts of the film. About 90% of Bangladesh’s 160 million people are Muslim.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina Wazed and opposition leader Khaleda Zia also condemned the film.