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Violence in Bangladesh as Islamic activists demand anti-blasphemy law

By Farid Hossain

Associated Press

Published: Sunday, May 5 2013 8:34 a.m. MDT

Hefazat-e Islam protesters shout slogans during a demonstration Sunday, May 5, 2013 in Dhaka, Bangladesh. Protesters were demanding that the Bangladesh government enact an anti-blasphemy law, but leaders in the Muslim-majority nation rejected the demand, saying the country is governed by secular liberal laws.

Ismail Ferdous, Associated Press

DHAKA, Bangladesh — Police in Bangladesh's capital fired rubber bullets to disperse stone-throwing Islamic activists Sunday during a protest to demand that the government enact an anti-blasphemy law.

The activists were among thousands demonstrating around Dhaka, blocking roads and cutting off the city from the rest of the country.

Police said protesters also set many shops and at least 30 vehicles on fire. Authorities deployed more than 15,000 security forces in the capital.

Clashes broke out in central Dhaka as activists started pelting police with stones, a police official said. He spoke on condition of anonymity under local briefing rules.

An unidentified man was killed and at least 45 people were injured, the official said. He provided no further details.

Thousands of activists from Hefatjat-e-Islam, a newly formed group, gathered in Dhaka's Motijheel commercial district to press for their demands.

The group says some Internet users have recently used their blogs to spread atheism and lies about Islam.

The government in this Muslim-majority nation has rejected the groups' demands, saying Bangladesh is governed by secular liberal laws.

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