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Page last updated at 14:38 GMT, Friday, 11 April 2008 15:38 UK

'Dozens hurt' in Dhaka protests

Protesters
Dozens of people are thought to have been hurt in clashes with police

Hundreds of people campaigning for Islamic rule in Bangladesh have clashed with police over a new policy advocating more rights for women.

Police used teargas and batons to break up the protests after members of the Islamic Constitution Movement (ICM) threw rocks in the capital, Dhaka.

Mokarram Hossain of Dhaka Metropolitan Police said there were more than 500 protesters and dozens were hurt.

Protesters had ignored a ban on such gatherings under a state of emergency.

It was imposed by an army-backed interim administration which took power in January last year.

Equal inheritance

Activists were angered by media reports of a draft law that gives equal inheritance rights to men and women.

It is understood that the policy would not be legally binding but would act as a guideline for the next parliament to use in forming legislation.

Parliamentary elections are expected to take place at the end of this year.

Mr Hossain said the clashes erupted during a demonstration following Friday prayers in front of the national mosque.

He said about 300 police officials were deployed around the mosque as hundreds of people from various Islamic groups took part in the protests.

Islamic guidelines

The ICM, which is one of a number of groups campaigning for Sharia-based laws in Bangladesh, said the proposed women's rights law was against a Koranic law of inheritance.

Mohammad Ismail, a protester, said: "We are not against women's rights, but it has to be according to the guidelines of Islam."

And Kawser Ahmed, who was also protesting, said: "The draft that the government prepared is totally anti-Islamic. We will not allow it to be passed."

Other groups who joined the protests included the Ahkame Sharia Hefazat Committee, backed by the country's biggest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami.

Bangladesh, which is a Muslim-majority nation with a population of about 150 million people, adheres to a secular constitution, although the state religion is Islam.

Nearly 50 people were hurt on Thursday when members of the Khelafat Majlis group clashed with police in the capital over the same issue.




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