Around 2,500 people were arrested in Bangladesh on June 4th after an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post defaming the Prophet Muhammad sparked street violence in the Muslim-majority, South Asian nation.
Most of those arrested for participating in the violence in the country’s capital Dhaka were unidentified. Bangladeshi authorities also arrested a man named Mohammad Sohel for making the reportedly blasphemous social media post.
Authorities reported that they tried to rescue Sohel from the mob of 2,500 Muslims trying to lynch him in the violence-stricken area of Kafrul in Dhaka. Sohel was sent to the state-run Dhaka Medical College Hospital for treatment.
Sohel, accused of violating Bangladesh’s strict Digital Security Act, maintained his innocence and insisted that he knew nothing about the blasphemous Facebook post, adding that his account was hacked.
“Sohel has been accused in the case. There is evidence indicating his involvement in insulting the prophet,” Mohammad Abdul Baten, the police officer in charge of the Kafrul police station, said regarding the incident.
Baten also added that the 2,500 arrested were charged with blocking the police from performing their duties, assaulting the authorities, and destroying public property. Around 12 policemen were injured during the violence triggered by the allegedly blasphemous Facebook post.
The clash erupted after Bangladeshi police tried to block the mob, who were attempting to lynch Sohel in reaction to the Facebook post, from attacking him. Baten did not provide further details about the Facebook post that incited the violence.
Another case was also opened in relation to this incident, where 28 people were charged with attacking the police. Their identities were not immediately disclosed to the public.
On June 19, an arrest was issued to Dayal Hari Das Joni over a photoshopped image he allegedly posted on Facebook, which “hurt the sentiment of Muslims.” A large rally followed where protesters demanded the hanging of the blasphemer.
Bangladesh: Hindu boy arrested over blasphemy charges https://t.co/ZYlO247IzY
— HinduPost (@hindupost) June 19, 2023
Blasphemy-related violence and persecution are rife in the South Asian nation of 169 million people, with about 91% of the population being Muslim. Blasphemy is often used to persecute religious minorities in the country, particularly Hindus.
Earlier this year, Bangladesh saw massive protests over the desecration of the Quran in Sweden and the Netherlands.