Facebook Post Sparks Attack on Buddhists

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Ayanna Nahmias, Editor-in-ChiefLast Modified: 03:53 AM EDT, 1 October 2012

Buddhist Monk Standing Before Buddha, Photo by Ruro PhotographyCOX'S BAZAR, Bangladesh - In March 2001 the Taliban destroyed two ancient statues of the Buddha called Bamiyan in an attempt to cleanse the country of Afghanistan of what they perceived as Hindu heresy.

Today, nearly 12 years later, Buddhist temples and homes are once again under attack ostensibly to revenge an insult of Islam. At least 10 Buddhist temples and 40 homes of Buddhists were destroyed by an angry mob of approximately a hundred Muslims.

The Cox's Bazar area is in the southeast of Bangladesh, and has historically been a model of successful, peaceful coexistence between Muslims and Buddhists. This coexistence has been assiduously maintained despite efforts to foment dissension by agitators.

Similar to the recent violence that swept across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia in response to a video which depicted the Prophet Mohammed in blasphemous terms; the riots in Cox’s Bazar were instigated by Muslim protesters because they were outraged by a photo of a burned Qur’an which was posted on Facebook.

The photo was posted on the Facebook page of a young Buddhist boy who claimed that he wasn’t responsible for the inflammatory picture. The ability of others to post photos on user pages is fairly simple. Adept users can easily circumvent privacy settings by tagging a photo with a person's name which then automatically posts the image to the unsuspecting user's page.

The boy and his mother are currently under police protection, and in response to the violence the police have increased security presence in the area to prevent further protests from erupting.

"We brought the situation under control before dawn and imposed restrictions on public gatherings," said Salim Mohammad Jahangir, district police superintendent for Cox's Bazar.

Home Minister Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir described the attacks on temples as a "premeditated and deliberate attempt" to disrupt harmony. (Source: AP)

Bangladesh’s is a Muslim dominated city of 150 million people of which Buddhists comprise less than 1 percent. According to witnesses, this small population refused to be intimidated by recent events, and over 100 Buddhists staged a silent protest of the attacks in the capital Dhaka on Sunday afternoon.

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Pakistani Minister Pledges $100,000 for Murder of Anti-Islamic Filmmaker

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Death Mask of Oliver Cromwell, Photo by LisbyISLAMABAD, Pakistan – From 2002 to 2010, the United States gave $13.3 billion in security-related aid to Pakistan, and $6 billion for economic assistance. It subsequently increased following the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and the retaliatory attack by the U.S. n the Taliban regime. More than $5.3 billion is pledged for the 2012 fiscal year of which $2.3 billion is earmarked to help the country’s counter-terrorism efforts. (Source: ABC News)

Despite this massive amount of financial support provided by the U.S. to Pakistan, there have been mounting tensions between the two nations, as well as a significant spike in mistrust following the death of Osama bin Laden on 2 May 2011.

Therefore, it should come as no surprise that a Pakistan government minister has offered $100,000 (£61,616) bounty for the death of the maker of an anti-Islam film produced in the U.S. According to Reuters, Railways Minister Ghulam Ahmad Bilour said he would pay the reward for the "sacred duty" out of his own pocket.

The incendiary film has sparked protests across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, but in many instances the film has been used as an excuse by those who harbor resentment of the slow pace of change following the Arab Spring; and in the case of the murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, as cover for a coordinated, paramilitary terrorist attack.

Though Secretary Hillary Clinton, President Obama and other U.S. government officials have vigorously condemned the film, this has failed to placate the mobs which have taken to the streets of Islamic nations.

Since the violent protests erupted in Pakistan at least 20 people died in clashes between anti-film protesters and Pakistani police. U.S. citizens have been warned against traveling to the region and an advertising campaign designed to calm tensions between the U.S. and Pakistan is being vigorously promoted.

The Pakistani government has disavowed Mr. Bilour’s statements but is currently in discussions about what if any action to take against him. At this point he will remain in his position even as he reaffirmed his commitment to “pay whoever kills the makers of this video $100,000, and if someone else makes other similar blasphemous material in the future, I will also pay his killers $100,000.”

The low-budget film was produced in 2011 and posted to YouTube where it languished without incident until it was promoted in the U.S. by an anti-Islamic pastor. It was subsequently discovered by Muslim news-makers, at which point, though it is unclear when, it was translated into Arabic.

The film is extremely inflammatory, depicting the Prophet Mohammad in an unflattering and blasphemous manner. The alleged producer of the trailer of the film, Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, is in hiding.

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