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Muslims, Hindus protest amid communal violence in Bangladesh

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — Protests erupted for a second day in Bangladesh's capital on Saturday, amid a wave of violence against local Hindus following a viral social media image perceived as insulting to the country's Muslim majority.

Some 10,000 protesters — many of them carrying banners of Islamist political parties — took to the streets outside the main mosque of the capital, Dhaka, a day after demonstrations on the same site ended in clashes with police.

The crowd chanted “Down with the enemies of the Islam” and “Hang the culprits”.

Photos showing a copy of the Quran —Islam’s holy book—at the feet of a statue in a Hindu temple in the eastern district of Cumilla triggered the protests and incidents of vandalism at Hindu temples across Bangladesh.

“We ask the government to arrest those who defamed the Quran by putting it at the feet of an idol in Cumilla,” Mosaddek Billah Al Madani, president of Bangladesh's Islami Movement. He added that protesters demanded “the death sentence” for those responsible for the images.

Separately, in a nearby intersection about 1,000 Hindus protested the attacks on temples and the killing of two Hindu devotees in another district where several temples were vandalized by Muslim mobs.

Police said at least two Hindus were killed in Friday’s attacks.

Communal tensions have risen as the minority Hindus celebrate their largest religious festival, the Durga Puja. About 9% of Bangladesh’s 160 million are Hindu.

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