Bangladesh court: Why weren't Buddhists protected?

Associated Press Published: October 3, 2012
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The government has provided rice and other dry food to the displaced Buddhists, local official Jasim Uddin said.

Religious Affairs Minister Mohammad Shahjahan Mian visited the area on Wednesday and hosted a "peace meeting" with representatives from all religions and local leaders.

"I urge you to maintain communal harmony as you have maintained it decades after decades," he told the meeting, attended by about 500 people. "The government is committed to protect minority groups."

He said authorities would rebuild the damaged temples and stand by the Buddhists who have lost their homes.

Buddhists make up less than 1 percent of Muslim-majority Bangladesh, and followers of the two religions usually coexist peacefully.

In the 1990s, about 250,000 Rohingya Muslims fled to Bangladesh to escape alleged persecution by Myanmar's military junta.

Myanmar later took most of them back, leaving some 28,000 in two camps run by Bangladesh's government and the United Nations.

Bangladesh has been unsuccessfully negotiating with Myanmar for years to send them back. In the meantime, tens of thousands of others have entered Bangladesh illegally.

Only about 300,000 Bangladeshis, or about 0.2 percent of the country's 150 million people, are Facebook users.

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Ahmed reported from Cox's Bazar.