Monday, October 8, 2012

Rangoon monks protest destruction of temples in Bangladesh

Monday, 08 October 2012 13:01 Mizzima News

More than 100 Buddhist monks demonstrated in front of the Bangladesh embassy in Rangoon on Friday to protest the recent destruction of Buddhist temples and homes in the Cox’s Bazar area.

Buddhist monks hold banners as they stage a demonstration in front of the Bangladesh embassy in Rangoon on Friday denouncing Muslim mob attacks on Buddhist temples in neighbouring Bangladesh. The violence in Bangladesh began on September 29 in the southeast of the country and spread to several towns and villages after claims that a young Buddhist man had posted photographs defaming the Koran on Facebook. Photo: Mizzima

Carrying signs with slogans including “The Earth Is for Everyone, Not Only for Muslims” and “Stop Insulting Buddhism,” the monks were protesting against attacks by Muslim mobs targeting Buddhist temples and homes in neighbouring Bangladesh on Sept. 30.

Sectarian tensions flared in Bangladesh between Buddhist and Muslims along the border of Rakhine State and nearly 300 people were arrested following widespread destruction of around one dozen Buddhist temples and around 40 homes in the area of Cox’s Bazar.

Meanwhile, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government has blamed Islamic radicals and activists in the political opposition, according to wire reports.

“In primary investigations, we have found that organized radical Islamic groups attacked the houses and places of worship,” Alamgir told reporters after a visit to the scene. “Activists of the opposition parties were also among the attacks.”

Buddhists make up less than 1 percent of Muslim-majority Bangladesh, and the two religions usually coexist peacefully, officials said. Some of the Buddhist families displaced by the attacks took shelter at the homes of Muslim neighbors, and on Monday, many Muslim families offered food to the victims, said reports.

The violence was apparently set off by anger over a photo of a burned Quran posted on Facebook, allegedly by a Buddhist who lived in the area.

The attacks followed communal clashes starting in June in Burma’s western Rakhine State, which left about 90 people dead, and displaced tens of thousands who are now living in refugee camps in Burma.

About 300 Buddhist monks in Bangkok staged a similar protest on Wednesday outside the regional office of the United Nations.

Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka also staged protests in front of the Bangladesh embossing in Colombo last week.

In the 1990s, about 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh in the face of alleged persecution by the military junta in Burma.

Later, Burma took back most of them. The UN now operates a refugee camp of around 30,000 Rohingya Muslims in the Cox’s Bazar area. Rohingyas in Burma are stateless and usually denied Burmese citizenship.

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