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

Ebola Death Toll Nears 5,000 as Virus Advances

West Africa bears heaviest burden; Mali toddler’s death raises new fears More

Jordan’s Battle With Islamic State Militants Carries Domestic Risks

Despite Western concerns that IS militants are preparing a Jordanian offensive, analysts call the kingdom's solid intel a strong deterrent More

Asian-Americans Assume Office in Record Numbers

Steadily deepening engagement in local politics pays off for politicians like Chinese-American Judy Chu 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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Comanche Chief Quanah Parker’s Century-Old House Falling Apart

One of the most fascinating people in U.S. history was Quanah Parker, the last chief of the American Indian tribe, the Comanche. He was the son of a Comanche warrior and a white woman who had been captured by the Indians. Parker was a fierce warrior until 1875 when he led his people to Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and took on a new, peaceful life. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Cache, Oklahoma, Quanah’s image remains strong among his people, but part of his heritage is in danger of disappearing.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid