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Muslims destroy Buddhist sites

Protesters go on rampage over burned Qu'ran photo

Muslims destroy Buddhist sites
The ruins of a 300-year-old Buddhist temple at Ramu in Cox reporter, Chittagong and Cox’s Bazar

October 1, 2012

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Muslims went on the rampage at the weekend attacking Buddhist villages in the southeast of the country after a picture was posted on Facebook allegedly showing a burned Qu’ran. The violence began on Saturday night when thousands of angry Muslim protesters attacked villages in Ramu, Ukhiya and Teknaf sub-districts of Cox’s Bazar and Patiya in Chittagong, close to the border with Buddhist-majority Myanmar. More than 100 homes were destroyed and 19 Buddhist temples, some of them centuries old, were looted and ransacked in the rampage, which lasted around five hours witnesses said. Hundreds of people were forced to flee the violence. “It was around midnight and a group of people started banging at the door.  After failing to break it down they set our home on fire. We had to flee through the back door,” said Babita Barua, 35, a college teacher from Ramu. “Everything we own was lost in the fire,” she added. At least 80 people have been arrested since the riots said police, who admitted they were overwhelmed by the sheer number of protesters. “We couldn’t do enough to quell the violence, but we are investigating what happened sincerely and thoroughly,” said Ramu police Chief Nazibul Islam. A curfew has been imposed in affected areas and security forces are patrolling the streets to prevent further violence. Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir and Minister of Industries Dilip Barua, a Buddhist, inspected the damage yesterday and promised to bring the attackers to book. “It seems the attacks were premeditated and deliberate,” Alamgir said yesterday, saying it appeared the protesters tried to inflict maximum damage. The minister and local residents pointed the finger at Jamaat-e-Islami, the country’s largest Islamist party. They said the party was using anger generated by the recent sectarian violence against Rohingya Muslims in Arakan state in Myanmar, just across the border. However, district Jamaat chief Muhammad Shahjahan denied the allegations. “Jamaat is not directly or indirectly involved in attacks on minority Buddhists. Attacking any individual or religious institution can’t be a way of protest and is un-Islamic. We condemn such attacks,” Shahjahan said. The Buddhist man accused of posting the Qu'ran picture on Facebook has been detained by police for his own safety.  Police say he was tagged in the photograph but was not responsible for posting it. Related reports: Arrests follow protests over film New mosque plans spark clashes

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