A Hindu village in Bangladesh was burnt down after a rumour spread that a local youth had insulted the Prophet Mohammed in a Facebook post.
More than 30 houses were set alight in the Rangpur Sadar upazila (district) following the man’s alleged defamation of the religious figure on social media.
The mob reportedly emerged from a crowd of 20,000 people who had gathered from six or seven neighbouring Muslim villages. Anger started to grow after a local Muslim businessman lodged a complaint with the police about the alleged Facebook post.
One person was killed and five others received serious injuries as the police tried to stop the arson and looting attack in the village of Thakurpara, as reported by the Dhaka Tribune, by firing tear gas and rubber bullets into the crowd.
In response to the police violence, the group blocked the local Rangpur-Dinajpur highway in protest, blocking traffic for about four hours.
Indian Express reported that more than 50 people were arrested.
The attack and police crackdown was spurred by rumour that local man Titu Roy defamed the Prophet on Facebook several days previously.
Jagadish Roy, a local Hindu community leader, told New Age said that the man accused of defamation was involved in a local dispute over a piece of land, and that he likely had not made any derogatory posts as he was “well-behaved and always respectful”.
Local reports say police have accused Bangladesh’s largest Islamist party, Jamaat-e-Islami, of deliberately attacking Hindus before the elections. The party is reportedly an ally of the Bangladesh Nationalist Party, led by former prime minister Khaleda Zia.
Local authorities have launched an investigation of the incident and relief for affected families.
The alleged targeting of ethnic minorities in a Muslim-majority country using what some people have described as fake propaganda comes as Bangladeshi authorities are trying to deal with more than 300,000 Rohingya Muslim refugees who are fleeing from violence by Buddhists in neighbouring Burma.
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