Bangladesh: 1 dead in clash over women's rights

AP News
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Posted: Apr 03, 2011 7:49 AM
Bangladesh: 1 dead in clash over women's rights

Bangladeshi security officials on Sunday opened fire and used tear gas to disperse stone-throwing members of a hardline Islamic group protesting a government policy for women's equal right to inheritance, leaving one protester dead and 25 others injured.

Police official Mostafizur Rahman said the protesters had also used firearms during demonstrations in support of Monday's nationwide general strike meant to force the government to scrap the policy that the protesters brand as anti-Islamic.

According to Muslim family law, women can only claim a quarter of what men get from their parents. Under the new rules, every child would inherit the same amount.

Abdul Mannan, a local journalist, said the melee broke out after the security officials tried to prevent the demonstrators from marching through streets.

He said the demonstrators started throwing stones at police, prompting the security officials to act.

Witnesses and a police official said 19-year-old Ahmed Husein, a student of an Islamic school in Jessore, died instantly after he was shot during the clash.

Harunur Rashid, a protest leader, said Husein was shot by police, but Rahman denied the allegation. The police official said 25 others, including police and journalists, were injured.

The protesters were from Hefajat-e-Islam, which belongs to Islami Oikya Jote, an alliance of hardline groups usually tied to former Prime Minister Khaleda Zia's Bangladesh Nationalist Party.

The government of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Zia's archrival, says it wants women to have greater rights in employment, inheritance and education.

Bangladesh is a Muslim-majority nation of 150 million people, but it is governed by secular laws, except in the arenas of family issues, such as marriage and inheritance.