News / Asia

Bangladesh Braces for More Muslim Attacks on Buddhist Sites

Soldiers from the Bangladesh Army erect tents at the torched Lal Ching Buddhist temple at Ramu, some 350 kilometers from the capital Dhaka, October 1, 2012.
Soldiers from the Bangladesh Army erect tents at the torched Lal Ching Buddhist temple at Ramu, some 350 kilometers from the capital Dhaka, October 1, 2012.
Anjana Pasricha
Bangladesh has increased security in the south east after Muslim protesters set fire to Buddhist temples and homes, attacks that were triggered by a Facebook photo of a burnt Quran, the Muslim holy book.    

Soldiers and border guards Monday patrolled Buddhist-majority villages in Cox’s Bazar district. Authorities also banned gatherings as people fled after angry Muslims went on a rampage Saturday and Sunday, torching Buddhist shrines, smashing statues and attacking homes. 

The wave of violence was triggered by a Facebook photo of a partially burned Quran. Muslims blamed the burning of the book on a Buddhist boy tagged in the photo.  

Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir has called the attacks a “deliberate” attempt to disrupt harmony. Authorities also promised to rebuild the temples. Sectarian clashes involving Buddhists and Muslims have been rare in Bangladesh -- a Muslim majority nation.

But political analysts say tensions between the two communities have been building in recent months after deadly clashes erupted between Buddhists and Muslims in neighboring Burma.

  • Buddhist monks hold banners and photographs as they protest in front of the U.N. office in Bangkok, Thailand, October 3, 2012.
  • Buddhist monks protest in front of the U.N. office in Bangkok, Thailand, October 3, 2012.
  • Buddhist monks hold a placard as they protest in front of the U.N. office in Bangkok, Thailand, October 3, 2012.
  • A member of the Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) guards a Buddha sculpture after an attack by Muslims in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 1, 2012.
  • A Buddhist monk tries to salvage his belongings from a burnt temple after an attack by Muslims, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 1, 2012.
  • Hands of a Buddhist woman are seen as she tries to salvage her belongings from her burned home after Muslims attacked it in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 1, 2012.
  • The remains of burned religious books at a Buddhist temple that was torched in an overnight attack in Ramu in the coastal district of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 1, 2012.
  • Bangladeshi police patrol after Buddhist temples were torched in an overnight attack in Ramu in the coastal district of Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 1, 2012.
  • A Buddhist woman walks through the gate of a temple as a policeman stands guard after an attack on the temple by Muslims, in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, October 1, 2012.
  • Bangladeshi Buddhist monks stage a protest in Chittagong on September 30, 2012 after Muslims torched Buddhist temples in southern Bangladesh.

Bangladesh’s Buddhists are less than one percent of the population, and most live close to the border with Buddhist-majority Burma, also known as Myanmar.

“There was a simmering discontent among a section of the Muslims here in the bordering areas, who thought that the Muslims on the other side, in Myanmar, were treated wrongly, or badly in the hands of the regime as well as Buddhist religious people," said Ataur Rahman, a professor of political science at Dhaka University. "People travel across, they exchange news and views across the area. Of course you cannot rule out people trying to take political dividend out of it.”

Authorities in Cox’s Bazar district say they are doing everything possible to quell tension and restore peace between the two communities.

Rahman of Dhaka University says authorities in Bangladesh are on guard against the possibility of social media being used to incite trouble.

“People in that part of the country, sentiment is very important, so you can hoot up the sentiment of people along religious lines," siad Rahman. "You can always incite, and if you can visually show that Muslims are tortured, and you can show it in Facebook, and you can share, then automatically people become angry.”

Last month the government banned the popular search engine, YouTube, to prevent people seeing the anti-Islam video that has sparked huge protests in many Muslim countries.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs