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Prime Minister in Bangladesh Says “No” to New Blasphemy Law

Bangladesh Prime Minister Shaikh Hasina rules out new blasphemy law

ICC Note:

An extremist Muslim group called the Hefajat-e-Islam organization has been calling for a blasphemy law in Bangladesh. Members and supporters have rallied, protested and enforced a general strike in their demands. The Prime Minister,  Shaikh Hasina has said that there are no plans to bring in a new blasphemy law because “we don’t need it.” Since the arrest and trials of Islamists charged with murdering an anti-Islamist blogger in January, “at least 96 people have been killed during protests.”

4/8/2013 Bangladesh (gulfnews)- Bangladesh’s prime minister has ruled out a new blasphemy law despite a mass campaign by Islamists to introduce the death penalty for bloggers whom they accuse of insulting the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH).

As part of their push for a change in the law, the Hefajat-e-Islam organisation on Monday forced the closure of schools and businesses across the country as part of a general strike.

At least 20 people have been injured in southwestern Bangladesh as the group enforced a general strike to back its demands for an anti-blasphemy law.

Police and Somoy TV station say the violence on Monday took place in Chittagong city when activists from Hifazat-e-Islam clashed with ruling Awami League supporters.

Police official Abdullahel Baki says the Hifazat-e-Islam protesters threw stones at police and the ruling party supporters. The TV station says one ruling party member was hit by a bullet, but it was not immediately clear who fired it.

The Hifazat-e-Islam protesters also blocked a rail line in eastern Brahmanbaria district to disrupt train services.

The government says it has no plans to enact an anti-blasphemy law or meet other demands from the protesters.

But Shaikh Hasina, who has been leading a secular government in the Muslim-majority country since 2009, said existing laws were adequate to prosecute anyone accused of insulting a religion.

“Actually, we don’t have any plan to [bring in a new law.] We don’t need it,” Hasina told the BBC in an interview broadcast on Monday.

“They should know that existing laws are enough,” she added, before stressing that “this country is a secular democracy”.

On Saturday hundreds of thousands of Islamists rallied in the capital Dhaka to demand a blasphemy law, with provisions for the death penalty for those who defame Islam.

[Full Story]

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