Bangladesh Arrests 150 as Koran Photo Spurs Attacks on Buddhists

Police in Bangladesh arrested 150 people for involvement in attacks by Muslims on Buddhist temples and homes following the posting on Facebook of a photograph of a burned Koran.

“The situation is now under control,” Selim Jahangir, superintendent of police for Cox’s Bazar, a district in the southeast of Bangladesh near the country’s border with Myanmar, said in a phone interview today. The army was deployed to help restore security, Jahangir said.

Rioters blamed a local Buddhist boy for the photograph, the Associated Press reported yesterday. The image was later removed from Facebook, the Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission said in a statement.

Muslim mobs attacked 12 temples and 50 homes in the predominantly Buddhist area of Ramu, about 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Cox’s Bazar city, according to The Daily Star newspaper. Buddhist and Hindu places of worship were also targeted in other parts of the district during two days of violence that ended yesterday, the paper said.

“The attacks were a premeditated and deliberate act of communal violence against a minority,” Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir told reporters in Dhaka yesterday, vowing to bring those responsible to justice.

Bangladeshi Muslims staged protests last month over a U.S. made amateur movie that ridiculed Prophet Muhammad, mirroring demonstrations in other parts of South Asia, including India and Pakistan. Bangladesh barred access to Google Inc.’s YouTube website in a bid to ease tensions.

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