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Wednesday, 21 November, 2001, 18:35 GMT
Bangladesh and the Bin Laden cult
Pro-Bin Laden demonstration
Most Bin Laden support comes from Islamic parties - for now
By the BBC's Alistair Lawson in Dhaka

Ever since the attack on the World Trade Centre in September, demonstrations in support of Osama Bin laden by Muslim hardliners have been held in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka.

Bin Laden's supporters all over Bangladesh are noisy and not afraid to make their feelings felt

The protests even have some measure of official support because of the presence in the coalition government of two hardline Islamic parties strongly critical of American and British military action in Afghanistan.

Osama Bin Laden is now acquiring a personality cult in Bangladesh and children sing his praises.

There has been a surge of support for him among some in Bangladesh since the fighting in Afghanistan began.

Fazlul Haq Amini is a member of parliament for the Islamic Unity Alliance.

"Osama Bin Laden is loved by the Bangladeshi people. Everyone respects him and considers him to be a leader of Muslims." he says.

Demand huge

Osama Bin Laden merchandise is big business.

His poster can be bought everywhere.

Bangladeshi boy
Youthful enthusiam after Friday prayers

Demand for books and audio tapes of his speeches often outstrips supply.

Bin Laden's supporters all over Bangladesh are noisy and not afraid to make their feelings felt.

They take to the streets after Friday prayers.

The protesters say that it is America and Britain who are the terrorists because they have bombed and killed Muslims in Afghanistan.

The expectations are that the longer the American action in Afghanistan continues, the louder the protests will become.

Bangladeshi newspapers argue that there is a clear distinction between those in the majority who are uneasy about the fighting and the small minority who revere Bin Laden.

"Osama Bin Laden is becoming someone who stands up to a very important and powerful enemy," says Afhsan Chowdhury, senior assistant editor on the Daily Star newspaper.

"Right now the support is more from the traditionally Islamic parties, but I think that kine of support is spilling over now to the mainstream, the middle class." Some radical Muslim clerics urge the faithful to join anti-American demonstrations.

The government knows it must now try and balance their demands against its decision to fully support America's war against terrorism.

See also:

22 Mar 00 | South Asia
Bin Laden 'link' to Bangladesh threat
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
In pictures: Afghans flee Kunduz
20 Nov 01 | South Asia
Q&A: What will Afghan talks produce?
12 Oct 01 | South Asia
Bert in the frame with Bin Laden
21 Nov 01 | South Asia
Journalists' bodies taken to Pakistan
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