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Buddhists, Hindus in Tripura protest against attack on Bangladesh temples

Agartala (Tripura) , Tue, 09 Oct 2012 ANI

Agartala (Tripura), Oct.9 (ANI): Hundreds of Buddhists and Hindus held a protest rally here to demonstrate against the recent burning of Buddhist monasteries and Hindu temples in Bangladesh by Muslims, after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam.

At least four Buddhist temples, two Hindu temples and 15 houses of Buddhists were burnt on Sunday.

Members of the Buddhist minority in the Cox's Bazar area in the southeast of the country informed that unidentified people were bent on upsetting peaceful relations between Muslims and Buddhists.

Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday (September 29) to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam.

The protesters said the picture had been posted by a Buddhist and they marched to Buddhist villages and set fire to temples and houses.

The protesters alleged the involvement of Bangladesh police in the incident and also for helping the attackers.

"Buddhist monasteries were vandalised and set ablaze by the Muslim fundamentalists along with the Bangladesh Army personal who possessed gunpowder and petrol. Many people were attacked with sharp weapons and we don't even have the exact numbers of people who have died or have sustained injuries. Along with the monasteries, two Hindu temples Matri Mandir and Durga Mandir have also been vandalised. The Bangladesh police was present there but instead of preventing the act, they helped the attackers who had collected the explosives from the military," said Sujit Barua, a protester.

Many people in predominantly Muslim Bangladesh have been angered in recent days by a film made in California that mocks the Prophet Mohammad.

Muslims in Bangladesh and beyond have also been outraged by violence over the border in Myanmar where members of the majority Buddhist community clashed with minority Muslims this year.

Police had escorted the man accused of posting the insulting photograph and his mother to safety.

Bangladesh accused Muslim Rohingya refugees from Myanmar on Monday (October 01) of involvement in attacks on Buddhist temples and homes in the southeast.

Police said violence spread to the port of Chittagong, where at least two temples were vandalised. But police drove the attackers away and tightened security around Buddhist areas.

Police said they arrested nearly 170 people on suspicion of vandalism and an investigation was ordered into the violence.

Protesters, holding photos of injured monks, vandalised temples and placards demanding immediate arrest of the culprits, walked through the streets of Agartala and the rally ended at the Bangladesh visa office in the city.

"I believe that anytime that there is any violence towards anybody, that it is our duty to stand up and to protect and fight for peace and I am against any kind of violence, whoever it may be," said Lily, another protester.

The protesters also sent a memorandum to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and National Human Rights Commission, seeking security of the Buddhists and Hindus living in Bangladesh.

Rohingyas were involved in a week of rioting with Buddhist Rakhines across the border in Myanmar last June and aid agencies say they bore the brunt of a government crackdown to halt the violence.

Rohingyas are not included in any census in multi-ethnic Myanmar and have no citizenship. Bangladesh does not accept them and pushed back out to sea refugees fleeing that unrest.

Police said the latest attacks were launched after Muslims found a Facebook photo of a burned Koran, allegedly posted by a young Buddhist man who was taken into safe custody by police. The Facebook account was closed.

Leaders of the Buddhist community, which makes up less than 1 percent of Bangladesh's population of 150 million, accused unidentified activists of sowing discord.

Many Bangladeshi Muslims have taken part in protests in recent days against a film made in California and deemed insulting to Islam.

Though most Rohingyas were turned back from Bangladesh during last June's violence, local residents accuse some of infiltrating the country and teaming up with Islamists. (ANI)

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