Bangladesh: Islamists and army conspire against religious minorities

Bangladeshi Muslims ran amok in Chittagong, destroying 20 Buddhist pagodas and a Hindu temple. Dozens of homes were destroyed in the blaze, while as yet only a Buddhist has been arrested.

 

Muslims in Bangladesh burned down 22 Buddhist temples, as well as two Hindu temples and more than 100 private homes in the Ramu, Ukhia, Patia and Teknaf districts in Chittagong, Bangladesh. More than 20,000 people formed mobs on the evening of September 30, rampaging for a whole night and a day. The temples they destroyed were among the most venerated pagodas in the Muslim-majority country. Muslims blame Buddhists for the violence, claiming that Buddhists had posted an image on Facebook that offended their religious sensibilities.
 
Rev.  Adam S. Pereira, a Catholic priest who is the Superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, expressed in an interview with the Fides news agency a "deep concern for the very tense situation in the province," while reporting on "the fears of all the confreres, the religious nuns and Catholic lay, a small minority, who witnessed a blind and indiscriminate violence."
 
Catholic Bishop Moses M. Costa of Chittagong, said  "We are very saddened, we did not expect this to happen. The two communities are blaming each other, but the violence is used as an excuse: Islamic fundamentalist groups seek footholds to unleash it. We Christians, could become the next targets. We will refer to the Episcopal Conference: We condemn all forms of violence and call for respect towards all religious communities in the name of harmony."
 
The Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR) reports that security forces have not arrested any Muslims but have arrested one Buddhist. "The attacks are part of a wide conspiracy against religious minorities, which involve the Bangladesh Army and the Islamic fundamentalists," the statement said. The Centre called on the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, to intervene with the Government of Bangladesh in order to end attacks against religious minorities, to bring those responsible to justice, to rebuild the temples burned, to adequately compensate the victims. 


Spero News editor Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. He is also a freelance translator.

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