Strike called in Bangladesh to ban Islamic parties

DHAKA, Bangladesh (AP) — A general strike to demand that Muslim-majority Bangladesh ban Islamic political parties shut down schools and stores and disrupted traffic in the capital on Tuesday.
A coalition of five leftist parties was enforcing the dawn-to-dusk nationwide strike, a common tactic in Bangladesh to highlight demands.
More than two dozen Islamic parties in Bangladesh want the country to be governed by Sharia, or Islamic law. The leftists say the Islamic parties should be banned because they oppose the constitutional provision that says Bangladesh be governed by secular law.
Authorities deployed about 10,000 police and security forces in Dhaka as hundreds of protesters took to the streets Tuesday, blocking roads and halting traffic. There were no immediate reports of violence.
Dhaka's Somoy and Channel-I television stations reported that the strike disrupted communications in many of the country's 64 districts.
The strike also left thousands of commuters stranded at bus stations, but the government said trains and river ferries were operating without disruptions.
The leftists are targeting mainly the nation's largest Islamic fundamentalist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, which campaigned against Bangladesh's 1971 independence war against Pakistan, another Muslim-majority nation in South Asia.
Jamaat is accused of collaborating with Pakistani troops during the bloody nine-month war that Bangladesh says saw 3 million people killed and about 200,000 women raped. Eight leaders from the party are currently on trial for allegedly committing murder, arson, rape and other atrocities during the independence war.
The leftist parties are also demanding that the war crimes tribunals speed up the proceedings.

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