Tens of thousands of protesters have marched through the Bangladesh capital, calling for a boycott of French products as anger over President Emmanuel Macron’s defence of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad mounts in the Muslim world.
The protesters on Tuesday burned an effigy of Macron during their march in Dhaka, chanting: “Boycott French products” and calling for the French leader to be punished over his alleged Islamophobia.
Police estimated that more than 40,000 people took part in the march organised by Islami Andolan Bangladesh (IAB) party.
Macron has sparked outrage across the Muslim world by accusing Muslims of “separatism” and describing Islam as a “a religion in crisis all over the world”.
The French leader also announced a plan “to reform Islam” in order to make the country’s six million Muslims more compatible with France’s republican values.
Tensions further escalated in the aftermath of the killing of Samuel Paty, a middle school teacher who showed his pupils drawings of Prophet Muhammad during a discussion on the freedom of speech.
As Macron slammed Paty’s killing, he also defended the prophet’s caricatures.
Since then, the backlash over Macron’s remarks has grown, with calls for expulsion of the French envoy from several Muslim-majority countries and a boycott of French goods.
“Macron is one of the few leaders who worship Satan,” Ataur Rahman, a senior IAB leader told the rally at the Baitul Mukarram national mosque, from where the march began.
Rahman called on the Bangladesh government to “kick out” the French ambassador while another leader, Hasan Jamal, said activists would “tear down every brick of that building” if the envoy was not ordered out.
“France is the enemy of Muslims. Those who represent them are also our enemies,” said Nesar Uddin, a young leader of the party.
The march was halted before it could get close to the French embassy in Dhaka.
Hundreds of officers used a barbed-wire barricade to stop the protesters, who were marching peacefully.