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Dozens of Buddhist temples burned to the ground in Bangladesh by 'Islamic radicals'

Dozens of Buddhist temples burned to the ground in Bangladesh by 'Islamic radicals'

In Bangladesh, government leaders are blaming opposition parties and what they call "Islamic radicals" for attacks on Buddhists.

Witnesses say about 25,000 people swarmed the area in the middle of the night. Some arrived by bus, burning dozens of old and sacred Buddhist temples. Sugoto Barua, caretaker of the Hai Tupi Temple, told Al Jazeera that in his 30 years of living there, the Muslims and Buddhists had lived harmoniously, side by side.

Violence broke out after a young Buddhist man posted pictures on Facebook desecrating the Quran. But there might have been other more complex causes for the violence, and some think the attacks were premeditated, particularly since most of protesters did not have access to the Internet and could not have seen the pictures. The fact that they were bussed in is also leading observers to think that the attacks were orchestrated.

Tensions in the area have been rising since June, when sectarian violence took place in Myanmar, just a few miles away. In one small village, the homes of members of the Muslim minority were set ablaze by Buddhists, who claimed that they were engaging in reprisal attacks. Muslims there fled across the border to Bangladesh, where they can practice their faith freely.

The government quickly restored calm and hundreds of young Muslims have been arrested.

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About D. Beeksma

One of the growing crowd of American "nones" herself, Deborah is a prolific writer who finds religion, spirituality and the impact of belief (and non-belief) on culture inspiring, fascinating and at times, disturbing. She hosts the God Discussion show and handles the site's technical work. Her education and background is in business, ecommerce and law.
  • Sheri

    What a sad story. I almost cried when I watched a Nature show about how Racoons are eating away at some of the oldest Buddhist temples in Japan, destroying their foundations. Funny too, since Japan had no racoons at all until they were brought there as pets after a cartoon racoon became popular. But to intentiionally destroy them just makes me sad.

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