DHAKA – Amid growing public unrest, Bangladesh has blocked some internet sites and blogs for ‘hurting religious feelings’ in the majority Muslim nation, as rival protests resumed between Jamaat-e-Islami supporters and young protesters supporting bloggers.
“We've taken the actions in line with the country's ICT (Information Communication Technology) Act,” Giasuddin Ahmed, vice chairman of the country's telecommunications regulator, told Agence France Presse (AFP).
Ahmed added that least two websites had been blocked as well as removing 10 blog posts for “spreading hatred, provoking social disorder and hurting religious feelings of the people”.
Authorities have also asked blog operators to "moderate" their posts to try to filter out anti-religious writings, another official said.
Tensions have risen in the south Asian country over the alleged anti-Islamic blog posts by Ahmed Rajib Haider.
In recent weeks Haider and fellow bloggers had launched huge protests demanding a ban on the largest Islamic party Jamaat-e-Islami, and the execution of its leaders for alleged war crimes in the 1971 liberation struggle.
Protests followed a decision of special tribunal to convict senior Jamaat-e-Islami party leader, Abdul Quader Mollah, of mass killings during the war and sentenced him to life in prison.
Another eight leaders of the party are on trial on charges of atrocities during the nine-month war against Pakistan.
Mollah's life sentence was seen by many in the country as lenient, which triggered a mass protest.
In its first verdict last month, the tribunal sentenced a former Jamaat-e-Islami leader, Abul Kamal Azad, to death in absentia for similar offences.
Tens of thousands of people came out on the streets across the country calling for the death penalty for convicted war criminals, including Mollah.
They have since been camping at Shahbagh in the centre of Dhaka to press for their demands.
Troubles agitated after the death of Haider who was hacked to death near his home in the capital Dhaka last week.
The authorities’ order to ban websites came as at least one was killed and dozens injured after Jamaat-e-Islami supporters clashed on Friday with police over war crimes trials.
“The person, most probably a supporter of an Islamic party, died on the way to hospital,” Jhenidah district police chief Altaf Hossain told AFP, adding that hundreds of protesters also clashed with ruling party activists.
The country's 12 Islamic parties called the protests after the weekly prayers in nearly half a million mosques nationwide, demanding the execution of bloggers they say were behind blasphemous writings against Islam and Prophet Mohammed.
Fierce clashes also occurred in the port city of Chittagong, the northern city of Bogra and dozens of other cities and towns where police fired rubber bullets at thousands of protesters, leaving scores injured, police and local media said.
In Dhaka, violence broke out outside the Baitul Mukarram national mosque, where the protesters also attacked around a dozen journalists.
Police tried to thwart the protest by locking the gates of the mosque where thousands of people were performing their weekly Jumma prayers, an AFP photographer at the scene said.
Sayeed Khan, an emergency doctor at Dhaka medical college hospital, told AFP that up to 50 people had been admitted, most injured by rubber bullets.
“Several cases are very critical,” he said.
Bangladesh is the world's third-largest Muslim majority nation with a population of some 148 million.
The country has a secular legal system but in matters related to inheritance and marriage Muslims follow Sharia`h.
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