DHAKA: Bangladesh has widened a crackdown on allegedly blasphemous blogs after a threat by Islamists to march to the capital demanding the prosecution of atheist bloggers, an official said on Wednesday.

The telecommunications regulator ordered two leading Internet sites to remove hundreds of posts by seven bloggers whose writings it said offended Muslims, according to its assistant director Rahman Khan.

These writings have defamed Islam and our prophet.

The two sites — Somewhereinblog.net and Amarblog.com — have removed most of the posts, Khan said. Khan said the regulator was scrutinising other sites to identify and erase “blasphemous blogs” in an attempt to ensure religious harmony in the mainly Muslim nation.

The move comes after Islamic groups and clerics, who have staged a series of deadly protests against atheist bloggers in recent weeks, threatened to march en masse to Dhaka on April 6 unless the bloggers are prosecuted.

The debate between militant atheists and fundamentalists has been a popular subject in Bangladesh’s blogosphere and on social media for years, but it took a deadly turn last month when an alleged anti-Islam blogger was murdered.—AF