Hefazat, the biggest Islamist group in Bangladesh on Monday told the government to cut diplomatic ties with France within 24 hour as police stopped thousands of its supporters from marching towards the French embassy.
The protesters have been protesting against remarks by French president Emmanuel Macron in a row about cartoons of the prophet Mohammad.
There have been similar protests in other mainly Muslim countries such as Indonesia over the dispute, which follows a knife attack outside a French school last month when a man of Chechen origin beheaded a teacher who had shown pupils the cartoons in a lesson on freedom of speech.
France has allowed displays of the cartoons, which are considered blasphemous by Muslims.
The protesters also demanded a boycott of French products and an end to the country’s ties with Paris.
“We are giving an ultimatum to the government to end diplomatic ties with France within 24 hours,” said Junayed Babunagari, head of Hefazat-e-Islam.
“If our demands are not met, we will announce our next course of action,” he said
“We will not take any side,” a senior foreign ministry official said, adding that security had been tightened at the French embassy.
Bangladesh enjoys warm bilateral relations with France which is the fourth biggest export destination for Bangladesh’s ready-made garment industry.
Bangladeshi prime minister Sheikh Hasina is yet to react to the demands of the Islamist parties.