Muslims offended by Quran Facebook photo torch Buddhist temples in Bangladesh


A Bangladeshi man was sentenced to six months in prison after comments he made about the prime minister on Facebook.


Saeed Khan

At least four Buddhist temples in Bangladesh were burned early today by Muslim demonstrators outraged by a photo of a desecrated Quran reportedly shared on Facebook by a Buddhist youth, local officials said today, according to Reuters

More from GlobalPost: Disasters drive mass migration to Dhaka

Some 20 people were injured in the unrest early today, but there no initial reports of fatalities from the violence, which came just hours after demonstrators rioted on the streets to show their anger over the photo, reported Reuters.

However, Bangladesh's home minister, Mohiuddin Khan Alamgir, today said authorities believe the attacks had been planned well in advance.

“We found evidences of gunpowder and petrol in Saturday’s arson of the Buddhist monasteries and houses," he said, according to Bangladesh's Daily Star, denouncing what he called "premeditated and deliberate act of communal violence against a minority." 

At least 15 homes in the country's Cox's Bazar area, where Buddhists are the minority, were also torched, officials said

Local police chief Nojibul Islam told the Associated Press that security forces have been sent to the area — which lies near the border with Buddhist-heavy Myanmar — and all further demonstrations there banned.

The young Buddhist boy blamed for the incident has been detained, along with his mother. 

The boy, identified as Uttom Kumar Barua, told The Daily Star that the photo in question had been erroneously tagged on his Facebook profile. His account has since been closed. 

Officials told AP that as many as 40 temples had been torched, and The Daily Star said 12 had been attacked since Saturday, three of them reportedly "totally gutted." 

Muslims in Bangladesh earlier joined protests taking place throughout the Islamic world in protest over California-made anti-Islamic footage posted on YouTube.