Clashes as Bangladesh Jamaat protest leaders' arrests
Dhaka: At least 30 people were injured in clashes Wednesday between Bangladesh police and supporters of the country's biggest Islamic political party whose leaders were arrested on charges of hurting Muslim religious sentiments.
Witnesses said the clashes occurred in Brahmanbaria district, some 150 km (93 miles) east of the capital Dhaka and home to many supporters of the Jamaat-e-Islami party, who had taken to the streets to protest their leaders' arrest on Tuesday.
Jamaat is a political ally of the opposition Nationalist Party led by former prime minister Begum Khaleda Zia.
Police had arrested the three men after another religious group, the Bangladesh Tarikat Federation, filed a court case in March against them, saying they had compared the Jamaat party chief with Prophet Mohammad. In Islam, Mohammad is beyond comparison.
Police named the arrested leaders as Jamaat chief Moulana Motiur Rahman Nizami, his deputy Ali Ahsan Mohammad Mujahid and another key party leader Moulana Delwar Hossain Saidee.
Jamaat said around 25 other party members were detained overnight in various districts.
Metropolitan Magistrate Mehedi Hasan Talukder approved the arrests as the accused had failed to comply with a summons to appear in court to hear the charges against them.
The men were held in police custody and are likely to appear in court Wednesday, police said.
Many Bangladeshis accuse Jamaat of collaborating with the Pakistani army during the 1971 war of independence.
The party in turn has accused the government of Sheikh Hasina of trying to curb its activities using war crime charges and is likely to see the arrests as a ploy to push that effort.