Monday, April 4, 2011
Dozens of people have been injured as Bangladesh police battled Islamists protesting against new government policies aimed at giving women equal inheritance rights
The violence came as the hardline Islami Oikyo Jote, a coalition of Islamic groups, enforced a nationwide general strike, demanding the government institute Islamic law and scrap policies aimed at giving women greater rights to property, employment and education. Thousands of riot police fanned out across Dhaka, the capital, and laid barbed wire fences to cordon off the country's main Baitul Mokarram mosque. Bangladesh is governed mainly by secular laws, but follows traditional Muslim family laws, which allow women to only claim a quarter of the inheritance men get from their parents. Sheikh Hasina Wazed, Bangladesh's Prime Minister, has proposed new rules which would give all children equal inheritance rights. Fazlul Huq Amini, who heads the Islamic Law Implementation Committee, accuses the government of violating the Koran by introducing the legal reforms. The latest violence came a day after a seminary student was killed and 25 other protesters were injured in clashes between Islamists and police in western Bangladesh. Islamist groups blamed police for shooting Ahmed Husein, 19, but authorities said he was killed in firing by armed protesters. Hasina's government has been locked in confrontation with Islamist groups ever since she took power in 2008, and set up a tribunal to prosecute Islamists who committed war crimes during the country's war of independence.