A Facebook post thought to be ridiculing one of Islam’s holiest sites prompted a mob of over 100 Muslim protesters to loot at least 15 temples and hundreds of Hindu homes in the Muslim-majority nation of Bangladesh, a local Hindu community leader told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
The mob injured an estimated 150 men over the weekend in the string of attacks.
“At least 15 temples were vandalized and numerous Hindu idols were smashed during the hour-long rampage,” Somesh Roy, the Hindu leader, told AFP.
“They vandalized 200 Hindu houses and set eight shops on fire. At least 150 men were injured as they tried to resist the attack,” he added.
— Hindujagrutiorg (@hindujagrutiorg) October 31, 2016
The local police have arrested nine men in connection to the string of violent attacks and lootings, including a Hindu fisherman who authorities believe is behind the Facebook post. He is the only individual charged with a specific crime so far.
“We have also arrested a 30-year-old Hindu man for the Facebook post. He’ll be charged with breaching internet laws,” revealed Abdul Kader, the police chief of the eastern Bangladeshi town of Nasirnagar, located in the Brahmanbaria district, adding the post has been taken down, notes AFP.
The 30-year-old, identified as a Hindu fisherman from Nasirnagar, is accused of posting an edited photo on Facebook of a Hindu deity inside one of Islam’s holiest place — the Kaaba in the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia, which is surrounded by the largest and most sacred mosque in the world, the Masjid al Haram.
Fox News reports, “The online post showed the Hindu deity over a picture of the Kaaba, a large cube-shaped building in Mecca.”
AFP quotes Brahmanbaria district police chief Mizanur Rahman as saying, “two Islamist groups had been demonstrating to demand the arrest and execution of the fisherman when a group of between 100 and 150 men broke away and attacked the temples.”
On Sunday, thousands of people, including activists linked to the two groups, reportedly took to the streets of Nasirnagar to protest the Facebook post.
According to police, Bangladeshi paramilitary border guards have been deployed to the Brahmanbaria district area to prevent further attacks.
“Hindus make up nearly 10 percent of the 160 million people who live in the Muslim-majority country,” notes AFP.
In recent months, the Islamic terrorist groups Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) and its rival al-Qaeda have been linked to a spate of attacks, many of them perpetrated by jihadists using machetes, on writers, secular bloggers, academics, activists, liberals, atheists, foreigners, gays, and religious minorities.
“We are tired of such repeated incidents. It is very unfortunate that none of the culprits of previous attacks are brought to justice,” Rana Dasgupta, a national Hindu community leader, told AFP.