DHAKA: Bangladeshi police have arrested one of the country’s most prominent Islamist preachers, whose rallies have attracted tens of thousands of people accused of inciting militants. This was stated by a senior officer on Tuesday.
Amir Hamza is the latest top Islamist to hold a rally since March, when protests erupted during Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit, in which at least 13 people were killed.
According to police, Hamza was detained during a raid on his home in the western city of Kishtia and then transferred to Dhaka.
Mohammad Asadul Zaman, head of the Dhaka police’s anti-terrorism unit, said a court had remanded Hamza for questioning for 10 days.
“He is an accused in an anti-terrorism case,” Asad al-Zaman said. He added that investigators had found videos of Hamza’s speeches on the mobile phone of a suspect detained under an alleged plot to attack Bangladesh’s parliament.
Hamza, in his 30s, is one of a new generation of preachers of Islam whose firebrand speeches draw a huge crowd in the Muslim-majority nation.
Hamza’s YouTube video speeches get millions of views.
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In 2019, another prominent preacher, Meezan-ur-Rehman Azhari, fled the country for fear of being prosecuted for his statement.
The visit of the Hindu nationalist leader of India was a spark of a new wave of arrests. Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina was reportedly embarrassed by the protests during a visit by a key ally.
Islamist leaders accused Modi of pursuing anti-Muslim policies and tens of thousands of people stormed police stations and government offices.
Haider Ali, Bangladesh’s deputy national police chief, said at least 1,230 members of the Haftah Islam group had been arrested since the deadly March 26-28 protests.