Thousands of Bangladeshi Muslims angry over an alleged derogatory photo of the Islamic holy book Koran on Facebook set fires in at least ten Buddhist temples and 40 homes near the southern border with Myanmar, authorities said yesterday.

The violence began late on Saturday and continued until early yesterday, said Nojibul Islam, a police chief in the coastal district of Cox’s Bazar.

He said at least 20 people were injured in the attacks that followed the posting of a Facebook photo of a burned copy of the Koran. The rioters blamed the photo on a local Buddhist boy.

Bangladesh’s English-language Daily Star newspaper quoted the boy as saying that the photo was mistakenly tagged on his Facebook profile. The newspaper reported that soon after the violence broke out, the boy’s Facebook account was closed and police escorted him and his mother to safety.

Joinul Bari, chief government administrator in Cox’s Bazar district, said authorities detained the boy’s parents and were investigating.

Buddhists make up less than 1 per cent of Muslim-majority Bangladesh’s 150 million people.

The Bangladeshi violence follows protests that erupted in a number of Muslim countries over the past month after a low-budget film, Innocence of Muslims, produced by a US citizen, denigrated the Prophet Muhammad.


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