DHAKA - Most schools, shops and offices were closed in Bangladesh on Sunday as opposition parties enforced a nationwide strike to protest against the anti-Islam film.
Thousands of police patrolled the capital Dhaka and roads were quiet across the country on what is normally a business day in the Muslim-majority country of 153 million people.
About 40 activists were briefly detained after they tried to barricade a main road and threw bricks at police, local Dhaka police chief Abul Kashem told AFP.
In Chittagong, Bangladesh’s second largest city and only port, protesters torched a bus and damaged a police van, police said, adding that three students had been arrested.
Several Islamic parties that are allied with the main opposition party called the strike to protest over the Internet film about the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and caricatures of him printed by a French magazine. They also demonstrated against the secular government’s scrapping of “absolute faith in Allah” as one of the four pillars of the constitution.
Police said about 10,000 police and elite Rapid Action Battalion forces were deployed in Dhaka, including in the diplomatic area.
On Saturday, hundreds of activists clashed with police as they rallied in defiance of a ban on protests in central Dhaka.
Police fired tear gas on protesters who pelted officers with stones and torched several police vehicles. Local media said more than 50 people were injured.
The Bangladesh government has condemned the Internet film and blocked video-sharing website YouTube in an effort to calm tensions.
On Friday, some 10,000 Bangladeshis took to the streets of Dhaka to demonstrate against the low-budget film outside the country’s largest mosque.
Protests have erupted across the Muslim world, leading to more than 50 deaths since the first demonstrations on September 11.