DHAKA - Bangladesh accused Rohingya refugees from neighboring Burma on Monday, October 1, of being involved in attacks on Buddhist temples and houses following the publication of a photo deemed offensive to Islam.
"The attacks on temples and houses in Buddhist localities in Ramu and neighboring areas in Cox's Bazar (district) were perpetrated by radical Islamists," Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir told reporters in Dhaka, Reuters reported.
"Rohingyas and political opponents of the government were also involved in the attacks."Qur'an Photo Triggers Bangladesh Riots
Deadly riots rocked southern Bangladesh on Sunday after a Buddhist posted a photo of a burned Qur'an on Facebook.
Angry with the photo, thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims went on rampage, attacking Buddhist temples and houses in the southern areas.
A dozen temples and monasteries and at least 50 homes were set ablaze in the violence.
Property was also looted, including statues of the Buddha.
Police said violence spread to the port of Chittagong, where at least two temples were vandalized.
But the attackers were driven away by police, which tightened security around Buddhist areas.
Police said they arrested nearly 170 people on suspicion of vandalism and an investigation was ordered into the violence.
"The situation has been under control since Sunday but we are adding forces to vulnerable areas to ensure the peace is kept," said Serajul Haque Khan, top civil administrator of the Chittagong division.
The violence was one of the worst sectarian attacks in Bangladesh in decades.
Buddhists make up less than one percent of Bangladesh's 153-million population and reside mainly in southeastern districts, close to the border with Buddhist-majority Burma.
Although Bangladesh, where nearly 90 percent people are Muslims, has witnessed deadly clashes between Muslims and Hindus in the past, sectarian clashes involving Buddhists are rare.
Alamgir described the attacks as a "premeditated and deliberate attempt" to disrupt communal harmony.
"The government will strongly deal with those who want to spread the venom of communal hatred," he said.
Rohingyas, ethnic-Bengali Muslims, were involved in a week of sectarian violence with Buddhists in the western Burmese state of Rakhine in June after an attack on a bus carrying Muslim pilgrims.
Rights groups say Rohingya Muslims bore the brunt of a government crackdown to halt the violence.
Human Rights Watch has accused Burmese security forces of targeting Rohingya Muslims with killing, rape and arrest following the unrest.
Described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities, Rohingyas are facing a catalogue of discrimination in Burma.
They have been denied citizenship rights since an amendment to the citizenship laws in 1982 and are treated as illegal immigrants in their own home.
The Burmese government as well as the Buddhist majority refuse to recognize the term "Rohingya", referring to them as "Bengalis".
Many Rohingya Muslims take risky journeys by sea to neighboring Bangladesh to flee persecution in their homeland.Bangladesh does not accept them and pushed back out to sea refugees fleeing that unrest.
Reproduced with permission from OnIslam.net