Bangladesh: 100,000 gather for funeral defying lockdown

On Saturday, April 18, 2020 photo, thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims gather to attend the funeral of a popular Islamic preacher defying a nationwide lockdown to curb the spread of the new coronavirus at the central district of Brahmanbaria, Bangladesh. Bangladesh, a nation of 160 million people, is struggling to enforce ban on large gatherings. (AP Photo/Masuk Hridoy)
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More than 100,000 people defied Bangladesh’s lockdown order on Saturday to attend the funeral of a senior leader of the Islamist party in the district of Brahmanbaria, according to the prime minister’s special assistant, Shah Ali Farhad, and the Brahmanbaria police spokesperson Imtiaz Ahmed.

The funeral for Maulana Zubayer Ahmad Ansari, an Islamic teacher, broke the country’s ban of no more than five people attending prayers at one time, sparking fears of a new coronavirus outbreak emerging from the event.

Tens of thousands of people flooded the roads to Brahmanbaria district, walking from the surrounding areas to attend the funeral, according to Mohammad Mamunul Haque, the joint secretary-general of the Islamist party.

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The police were unable to control the crowd, resulting in the officer in charge and assistant superintendent being withdrawn from the event and a “three-member probe committee” being formed to start an investigation into the congregation activity, according to Sohel Rana, the Bangladesh Police Central spokesperson.

Bangladesh has a recorded total of 2,456 positive cases of coronavirus, with 91 deaths as of Sunday, though critics say the true number is higher and still unknown due to lack of testing kits.

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