Arifur Rahman

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Rahman, a 20-year-old cartoonist, was taken into custody following a religious controversy sparked by a cartoon published in the satirical supplement of the daily Prothom Alo on September 17. Rahman was charged under the provisions of Section 54 of Bangladesh’s Criminal Procedure Code, which gives police broad power to make arrests without a warrant.

The cartoon featured a boy calling his pet “Muhammad Cat” because of the Muslim custom of putting Muhammad before a male given name. The paper apologized and the supplement’s deputy editor was fired when the joke was deemed offensive by Muslim groups, but hundreds gathered on September 21 to demonstrate against the newspaper. The demonstration was staged despite a ban on protests during the country’s state of emergency.

Rahman had been awarded a government prize in August for an anti-corruption cartoon.