Bangladesh: Protests and Arrests Follow Funeral of Prominent Muslim Leader


Around 50,000 individuals attended the funeral of a prominent religious leader in Bangladesh, whose death in prison sparked widespread protests.

Delwar Hossain Sayedee, 83, had been sentenced to death in 2013 for rape, murder, and the persecution of Hindus during the nation’s 1971 war for independence. His sentence was later commuted to “imprisonment till death.” Sayedee passed away from a heart attack in a prison outside Dhaka, triggering demonstrations that escalated to violence when police intervened.

The funeral, held in Sayedee’s hometown within the coastal Pirojpur district, was heavily secured by the police. Approximately 50,000 people participated in the funeral prayer, according to Sheikh Mustafizur Rahman, the deputy police chief for the district.

In another part of the country, a fatal confrontation between the police and a group attempting to hold a memorial ceremony for Sayedee resulted in one casualty.

Sayedee was a prominent figure in the opposition Jamaat-e-Islami party, a banned yet influential hardline political group. The party has been contentious for advocating Bangladesh’s union with Pakistan during the brutal 1971 civil war.

Sayedee gained prominence in the 1980s for his preaching in major mosques. He attracted massive audiences during his speeches, which were widely distributed.

His conviction by a war crimes tribunal a decade ago sparked the deadliest protests in Bangladesh’s history, with around 100 fatalities in subsequent clashes. Critics highlighted procedural issues with the tribunal.

Sayedee’s death triggered anti-government slogans and demonstrations by his party’s supporters. Many criticised Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s administration, which is preparing for a general election in January.

Police reportedly employed rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protesters during the early morning hours.


Source: Al Jazeera