Reports: Islamists in Bangladesh Burn Houses of Hindu Families to Protest France

Protesters take part in an anti-France demonstration in Dhaka on November 2, 2020. (Photo by Munir Uz zaman / AFP) (Photo by MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images)
MUNIR UZ ZAMAN/AFP via Getty Images

A Muslim mob vandalized and burned down at least ten Hindu households and two Hindu temples in Cumilla, Bangladesh, on Sunday after a local man reportedly praised French President Emmanuel Macron’s comments against Islamists’ violent response to satirical cartoons on Facebook.

“The households [and temples] were vandalized and later set on fire on Sunday after a Bangladeshi Hindu, who lives in France, allegedly praised, on his Facebook account, the French President Emmanuel Macron for taking steps against inhumane ideologies after a teacher in Paris was decapitated for showing caricatures of [the Islamic] prophet Muhammad,” the Dhaka Tribune reported on Monday, referring to an Islamist terror attack in a Paris suburb on October 16, which Macron has publicly denounced.

According to the newspaper, the Bangladeshi Hindu man is named Shankar Debnath. “[A] local Hindu school headmaster and another person” from Cumilla alleged shared his alleged Facebook comments on Saturday before their collective commentary went viral on social media.

The comments caused public outrage in the Cumilla village of Korbanpur, inspiring a Muslim mob to take to Korbanpur’s streets on Sunday afternoon. The mob subsequently vandalized and set fire to Shankar Debnath’s house, local municipal leader Bankumar Shiv’s house, and at least eight other homes owned by Hindus; the mob also torched at least two local Hindu temples.

The local fire service had to be called to douse the fire[s],” the Dhaka Tribune reported, adding that police were “immediately rushed” to the village to try to “bring the situation under control.”

The police were joined in Korbanpur later on Sunday by “Comilla’s Deputy Commissioner Abul Fazal Mir, Superintendent of Police Syed Nurul Islam,” and other local officials.

“A case was filed over the incident. … [O]n Sunday, police arrested Shankar and Anik Bhowmik, another accused in the case, for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and sent them to jail,” according to the report.

Bangladesh Interior Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal said on Monday that “orders have been issued to arrest anyone who appeared as suspects” in eyewitness videos of the mob attack in Korbanpur on Sunday. The interior ministry is also “launching routine legal procedures against those involved,” he added.

“We have mobilized mobile courts to award punishment to the suspects as immediate actions but the culprits will face sterner punitive actions after detailed investigations,” Kamal explained to Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS), a national news agency.

“Five people have been arrested and a mobile court has sentenced each of them to one and [a] half years of imprisonment identifying them from a video footage [sic] … three cases were lodged by now and another two are being … [investigated] over the incident,” Islam told BSS on Monday.

Youth activists associated with an “anti-government political party” instigated the mob to attack Hindu homes and temples, Islam claimed. According to Kamal on Monday, the interior ministry has deployed extra security forces to Korbanpur to ensure security in the wake of the attacks.

Sunday’s mob rampage in Cumilla follows a separate mob lynching in northern Bangladesh on October 29. In that case, a Muslim mob beat a man to death and burned his body for allegedly desecrating a copy of the Quran, Islam’s holy book. Islam is the state religion of Bangladesh, where mob lynchings killed more than 50 people last year.

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