DHAKA, March 13, Reuter: More than 40 people were injured and five arrested when police broke up a demonstration by nearly 2,000 orthodox Moslems demanding that Bangladesh be made an Islamic Republic. Eyewitnesses said police used batons and tear gas to disperse demonstrators who left a Mosque in Central Dhaka after Friday prayers chanting “Make Bangladesh an Islamic Republic” and “We want an Islamic constitution”. Hospital doctors said five of the injured were in serious condition. They gave no details.
Police said the Moslems wanted to hold a rally in defiance of a government ban and attacked police trying to persuade them to leave.
More than 90 per cent of Bangladesh’s 105 million people are Moslems but successive governments have maintained it as a secular state.
President Hossain Mohammad Ershad has declared Friday an official holiday in pursuance of his promise to run the country according to Islamic tenets but he apparently does not want to make the People’s Republic of Bangladesh form a Moslem state.