Muslim group protests arrival of US Navy ships in Bangladesh

Press Trust of India

Posted online: Saturday, November 24, 2007 at 0000 hrs IST

Hundreds of sympathisers of extreme Right-wing group Hijbut Tahrir on Friday protested against the planned arrival of two American Navy ships carrying relief material for the survivors of the Bangladesh cyclone.

Witnesses said around 300 protesters from the Islamist outfit, which vehemently campaigns against the US foreign policies, chanted slogans “Go back to America” and “US has no place in Bangla” after the Friday prayers in front of the Baitul Mokarram National Mosque in downtown Dhaka.

The protesters carried a banner reading “Prevent American ships from entering the Bay of Bengal in the name of distributing relief”, but the riot police prevented them as they briefly tried to defy a security barrier to pour onto the streets.

“It’s a shame that as Muslims we are allowing the US... every Bangladeshi should come forward to join this campaign,” said leader of the group Quazi Morshedul Huq.

“Isn’t it the right time for us to stand up against the US? Should we wait for them to kill us, rape our women like they did in Iraq? They are here for their own interests. It’s a threat to our sovereignty,” he added.

Officials said the Navy ships USS Essex and USS Kearsarge would arrive in Bangladesh on November 24 and 27.

A statement issued by the US embassy said the vessels, each carrying 20 or more helicopters, were ordered to move in the direction of Bangladesh so that “US military forces can be better positioned in the event that the Government of Bangladesh requests assistance”.

“At the request of the American Embassy in Bangladesh, US Pacific Command has sent a 23-man Humanitarian Assistance Survey Team of US Marines to the southern coast of Bangladesh to determine how the US military can best provide assistance in the area,” US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had said in a statement earlier.