Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-Chief
Last Modified: 03:53 AM EDT, 1 October 2012
COX’S BAZAR, Bangladesh – In March 2001 the Taliban destroyed two ancient statues of the Buddha called Bamiyan in an attempt to cleanse the country of Afghanistan of what they perceived as Hindu heresy.
Today, nearly 12 years later, Buddhist temples and homes are once again under attack ostensibly to revenge an insult of Islam. At least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes of Buddhists were destroyed by an angry mob of approximately a hundred Muslims.
The Cox’s Bazar area is in the southeast of Bangladesh, and has historically been a model of successful, peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Buddhists. This coexistence has been assiduously maintained despite efforts to foment dissension by agitators.
Similar to the recent violence that swept across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in response to a video which depicted the Prophet Mohammed in blasphemous terms; the riots in Cox’s Bazar were instigated by Muslim protesters because they were outraged by a photo of a burned Qur’an which was posted on Facebook.
The photo was posted on the Facebook page of a young Buddhist boy who claimed that he wasn’t responsible for the inflammatory picture. The ability of others to post photos on user pages is fairly simple. Adept users can easily circumvent privacy settings by tagging a photo with a person’s name which then automatically posts the image to the unsuspecting user’s page.
The boy and his mother are currently under police protection, and in response to the violence the police have increased security presence in the area to prevent further protests from erupting.
“We brought the situation under control before dawn and imposed restrictions on public gatherings,” said Salim Mohammad Jahangir, district police superintendent for Cox’s Bazar.
Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir described the attacks on temples as a “premeditated and deliberate attempt” to disrupt harmony. (Source: AP)
Bangladesh’s is a Muslim dominated city of 150 million people of which Buddhists comprise less than 1 percent. According to witnesses, this small population refused to be intimidated by recent events, and over 100 Buddhists staged a silent protest of the attacks in the capital Dhaka on Sunday afternoon.Follow Nahmias Cipher Report on Twitter Twitter: @nahmias_report