Last Updated: Sat Sep 22, 2012 14:48 pm (KSA) 11:48 am (GMT)

Film protests stretch across Nigeria, turn violent in Bangladesh

A burning U.S. flag is seen on the ground after it was set on fire by Bangladeshi Muslims during a protest in Dhaka, Sept. 21, 2012. (Reuters)
A burning U.S. flag is seen on the ground after it was set on fire by Bangladeshi Muslims during a protest in Dhaka, Sept. 21, 2012. (Reuters)

Violent clashes erupted in Bangladesh on Saturday as hundreds of protesters came out against a U.S. made anti-Islam film that has stirred outrage across the Muslim world, as tens of thousands protested on the streets of Nigeria’s second city of Kano.

Bangladesh authorities on Saturday said they fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of Islamist protesters who defied a ban on demonstrations

The clash erupted after the protesters from an alliance of 12 Islamist parties tried to hold a rally in central Dhaka despite a 24-hour ban on gatherings in the area, police said.

Hundreds of protesters attacked policemen, torched a motorbike and damaged a police van, forcing police “to fire tear gas shells to disperse them”, Dhaka police spokesman Masudur Rahman told AFP.

“They defied our ban and tried to stage a protest against the anti-Islam film. At one stage, they started pelting stones at policemen,” he said, adding that police arrested several people including some leaders of the group.

The online edition of the country’s top-circulated Daily Star said at least 30 people were injured in the clash and that police arrested 40 protesters.

Police could not be immediately reached to confirm the report, according to AFP news agency.

On Friday, some 10,000 Bangladeshis took to the streets of Dhaka to demonstrate against the film outside the country’s largest mosque. A protest of similar size was held the previous Friday.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, a crowd of demonstrators stretched several kilometers through the city of Kano, the largest in Nigeria’s mainly Muslim north, with protesters shouting “death to America, death to Israel and death to the enemies of Islam.”

The rally was being organized by the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, a pro-Iranian group that adheres to the Shiite branch of Islam, which has operated in Africa’s most populous country since the late 1970s.

“We are out today to express our rage and disapproval over this blasphemous film,” said Mohammed Turi, a member of the Islamic Movement and one of the protest leaders.

“This protest is also aimed at calling on the U.S. government to put a halt to further blasphemy against Islam,” he added.

Demonstrators carried pictures of U.S. President Barack Obama, as well as American and Israeli flags as they marched towards a palace owned the Emir of Kano, the top religious figure in the city of roughly 4.5 million people.

The low-budget film “Innocence of Muslims,” has incited a wave of bloody anti-American violence in cities across the Muslim world, with protests occurring in more than 20 countries.

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