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Last Updated: Friday, 23 December 2005, 15:44 GMT
Violent Dhaka rally against sect
By Waliur Rahman
BBC News, Dhaka

Bangladesh protest
Hardliners tried to march to an Ahmadiyya mosque
Hundreds of opponents of Bangladesh's minority Muslim Ahmadiyya community have clashed with police during a march in the capital Dhaka.

The clashes occurred as supporters of the hardline Islamic group Khatme Nabuwat Movement tried to march to a mosque used by the Ahmadis.

The hardliners want the Ahmadis to be declared non-Muslims.

The Ahmadis, who number 100,000 in Bangladesh, do not believe Mohammed was necessarily the last prophet.

Rights report

Police used batons and lobbed tear gas to disperse the supporters of the Khatme Nabuwat Movement.

We believe Bangladesh is not a place for any extremist views. We are taking measures to resist them
Mosharref Hossain Shajahan,

Witnesses said at least 10 people, including some policemen, received minor injuries during the clash that followed a noisy demonstration outside the main mosque in Dhaka.

Police said they retaliated after the activists threw bricks.

Friday's demonstrations were the latest of a series of protests against the Ahmadiyya community.

The hardliners demand that the government enact a law to declare the Ahmadiyya non-Muslim.

The sect has been subjected to a number of attacks across Bangladesh.

In June, the New York-based Human Rights Watch released a report accusing the Khatme Nabuwat and its allies of attacking Ahmadiyya mosques and beating and killing Ahmadis.

Last year, the government banned the publications of the Ahmadiyya but refused to declare it non-Muslim.

Junior Religious Affairs Minister Mosharref Hossain Shajahan said the government was aware about the fresh demands made by the hardline group but that they were not acceptable.

He told the BBC a few misguided people had chosen to take a hard line against the Ahmadiyya and they would be dealt with through administrative and legal measures.

Mr Shajahan also denied allegations from rights groups that the government was too soft against those targeting the Ahmadis.

"We believe Bangladesh is not a place for any extremist views. We are taking measures to resist them," he said.

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