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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 June, 2005, 14:50 GMT 15:50 UK
Bangladesh Koran march prevented
Protest in Dhaka
The protesters tried to push towards the US embassy
Police in Bangladesh have halted a march by thousands of Islamic activists protesting against alleged desecration of the Koran by the US military.

Up to 5,000 protesters held a peaceful rally in Dhaka after being prevented from marching to the US embassy.

The rally was sparked by allegations that US guards at the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba desecrated the Koran.

The US has admitted five cases of "mishandling", most of them unintentional or accidental.

Censure motion

The protesters carried placards reading "Down with America" and "The Koran is our weapon to fight against America".

Bush must apologise... we are ready to sacrifice ourselves to protect the Koran
Moulana Mohammad Hemayetuddin,
rally speaker

They demanded President George W Bush apologise for the incidents and the Bangladesh government pass a motion of censure on the matter.

Moulana Mohammad Hemayetuddin, senior leader of the Islamic Shashontontro Andolon, or Islamic Constitution Movement, told the rally: "Bush must apologise. We are ready to sacrifice ourselves to protect the Koran.

"We will continue our movement until America apologises."

Hundreds of police were deployed and halted the march without the use of tear gas or baton charges.

Protest in Dhaka
Demonstrators demanded an apology from the US president

The US launched an investigation into mishandling after allegations in a magazine, later retracted, that a copy of the Koran was flushed down a toilet.

It found one case of a copy being deliberately kicked and four others of accidental or unintentional mishandling.

It concluded that "respect for detainee religious beliefs was embedded in the culture of [Guantanamo Bay's task force".

The report said there were a number of cases where detainees had desecrated the Koran by ripping pages, urinating on it and trying to flush it down a toilet.

The earlier report in Newsweek magazine had sparked protests across the Muslim world.

In Afghanistan, riots resulted in the deaths of at least 15 people.

Thousands rallied in Egypt, Pakistan, Jordan, Lebanon and Malaysia, demanding apologies from the US and punishment for those involved.

The magazine withdrew its story after saying it could no longer corroborate the report.



SEE ALSO:
US Guantanamo guard kicked Koran
04 Jun 05 |  Americas
Inquiry finds Koran 'mishandling'
27 May 05 |  Americas
FBI records detail Koran claims
26 May 05 |  Americas
Red Cross 'raised Koran concerns'
19 May 05 |  Americas
White House hits out at Newsweek
18 May 05 |  Americas


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