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Thai Monks Rally Against Muslim Violence

  • VOA News

Buddhist monks hold a placard as they protest in front of the U.N. office in Bangkok, October 3, 2012.

Buddhist monks hold a placard as they protest in front of the U.N. office in Bangkok, October 3, 2012.

Buddhist monks are protesting a wave of violence targeting the Buddhist community in Bangladesh.

About 200 monks marched peacefully in Bangkok, some carrying banners pleading for peace and harmony. Others carried posters demanding an end to what they called "Muslim Terrorism" against Bangladesh's small Buddhist community.

A monk from Chittagong, Phra Jyotisen Bhikko, called for U.N. help.

''If the U.N. intervenes, if it tells the Bangladesh government to stop all this, then I think it will stop," he said. "Even now temples and our villages are being attacked. If the U.N. intervenes then I hope this will stop."

Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims rioted Saturday and Sunday, targeting Buddhist temples across the country's southeast.

The attacks began after Muslims found a photo of a burned Quran on and blamed it on a Buddhist man.

Bangladeshi Home Affairs Minister Mohiuddun Khan Alamgir has accused radical Islamists and opposition party activists of instigating the riots as a "premeditated and deliberate" attempt to disrupt communal harmony.

He also accused Rohingya Muslims from Burma of vandalizing and looting at least 10 Buddhist temples and dozens of homes in the district of Cox's Bazaar, which borders on Burma.

Bangladeshi authorities deployed extra security forces Monday in Cox's Bazaar to protect Buddhists, who make up less than one percent of Bangladesh's population and live close to the border with Buddhist-majority Burma.

Bangladesh says more than 100 people have been detained in connection with the riots.

Tensions between Rohingya Muslims and Buddhists in western Burma's Rakhine state escalated into violence in June, killing about 90 people. Many Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh to escape the fighting.

Burma refuses to recognize its estimated 800,000 Rohingya Muslims as an ethnic group and denies them citizenship. Many Burmese consider the Rohingya to be illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.

Rohingya Muslims also are denied citizenship in Bangladesh, which says the group has been living in Burma for centuries.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.