Bangladesh Muslims torch buddhist temples over Facebook photo
Hundreds of muslims in the country's southeast took to the streets late on Saturday to protest against what they said was a photograph posted on Facebook that insulted Islam.
Monday, October 1, 2012, 3:26 PM
In Burma, violence against Muslim minority stumbles into spotlight
Hundreds of Muslims in Bangladesh burned at least four Buddhist temples and 15 homes of Buddhists on Sunday after complaining that a Buddhist man had insulted Islam, police and residents said.
Members of the Buddhist minority in the Cox’s Bazar area in the southeast of the country said unidentified people were bent on upsetting peaceful relations between Muslims and Buddhists.
Muslims took to the streets in the area late on Saturday 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.
Police said they had deployed extra security forces and banned gatherings in Buddhist-dominated areas.
“We brought the situation under control before dawn and imposed restrictions on public gatherings,” said Salim Mohammad Jahangir, Cox’s Bazaar district police superintendent.
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, Jahangir said.
Sohel Sarwar Kajal, the Muslim head of the council in the area where the arson took place, said he was trying to restore communal peace.
“We are doing everything possible to quell tension and restore peace between the communities,” he told reporters.
Source: NY Daily News
A few weeks ago, a picture showing hundreds of dark-skinned men splayed across a beach was passed around on Facebook. The men appeared to be either asleep, or more likely, dead. They lay against each other, their faces averted from the camera, while men in fatigues holding semi-automatic weapons towered over them. The caption read: "Continuity of massacre of Muslims of Burma by Buddhists. More than 1,000 killed yesterday. Please share."
After some probing, the photograph turned out to be a fake. But all fabrications aside, there actually is a bona fide crisis unfolding along the Burma and Bangladesh border – despite the poppycock on social media, the sham did raise questions that traditional media have largely ignored.
Violence between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Rakhine region erupted in June after the alleged rape and murder of a Buddhist girl by Muslim men. The scale of violence has led to scores of deaths and the mass displacement of tens of thousands of people. After a state of emergency was declared in the province, the entry of Burma's security forces lent another dimension to this conflict. Amnesty International said in early August that Rakhine Buddhists, together with security forces, purposefully meted out devastating violence against the Muslim minority.
This violence is only the latest chapter in a long history of state-sponsored repression against the Rohingya. It began when Burma began its project of "Burmanisation" in the 1950s, with its lofty aims for racial purity and the nationalisation of resources following the end of British rule. The minority was targeted in pogroms in 1978, stripped of their citizenship in 1982 and became the perfect foil for rampant human rights abuse, including slave labour and torture, that led to a second exodus into Bangladesh in 1991-1992.
But not only are the Rohingya a disenfranchised people, they are dark-skinned Muslims with little relevance, representation and significance to anyone. Unable to deal with a matter the much-vaunted Nobel peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi has not endorsed, the western world has tiptoed around the issue. Aung San Suu Kyi's silence is evidently an attempt to placate her constituency ahead of general elections in 2015, and to criticise her now would be like admonishing Nelson Mandela in the run-up to the 1994 election in South Africa. But unlike South Africa in the 1990s, Burma is not on the verge of some tremendous political shakeup; while the Rohingya are being sacrificed as collateral damage in the greater project of the democratisation of Burma, Aung San Suu Kyi is missing an extraordinary opportunity to live up to her reputation.
Meanwhile, in that parallel universe known as the "Muslim world", the Rohingyas have joined Palestine, Kashmir, Iraq and Afghanistan on the list of flagship Muslim causes. In a region that is home to the world's greatest concentration of Muslims, the delayed reaction of neighbouring Indonesia, Malaysia and Brunei is startling. Last week, Bangladesh, another Muslim country, ordered three NGOs to stop providing food and other humanitarian assistance to Rohingyas in the border area, claiming it did not want to encourage more asylum seekers to its shores. Already 40,000 unregistered Rohingyas live in makeshift camps in Bangladesh, and according to the UN Refugee Agency, the latest violence will result in a greater influx of people – whether Bangladesh likes it or not.
While Burma's Muslim neighbours struggle to respond, Saudi Arabia has thrown money at the problem. It has fallen to Turkey to act decisively by further extending its newly found benevolence to the Islamic world. As images of the Turkish prime minister's wife sobbing as she witnessed the effects of the violence herself begin to be passed around online – further cementing the Rohingya cause to the long list of Muslims' suffering – Muslim prayers have bemoaned the global silence as proof of the grand conspiracy against Islam. And yet little is being done by Muslims to actually reverse the treatment of their purported brethren themselves.
It all makes for a rather disempowering picture, but it doesn't have to. Given how fast a fake picture can spread its way across the world, imagine what we could do with a little engagement.
Source: The Guardian