“Yesterday evening, we heard about some people attempting to destroy the mosque and this morning, I went to look at it and saw that some damage had been done,” Htun Naing of the Kyaukphyu Public Network told the Democratic Voice of Burma on Tuesday, November 19.
The attack started on Monday evening when a group of Buddhists gathered to celebrate the full moon festival.
Expressing concerns about the latest visit by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), they attacked the mosque destroying its minaret at about 8 PM.
By 10:45 PM, seventy five percent of the mosque building was destroyed.
The attack comes in the wake of OIC’s delegation Four-day visit to Burma, which has concluded last Saturday.
“Buddhist Arakanese locals] were planning to stage a protest, when the OIC came to visit, to oppose its plan to open an office in the town and I guess the incident yesterday could be connected to this,” said Naing.
Ahead of OIC’s visit last week hundreds of Buddhists took onto the streets last Tuesday to protest against the visit, accusing the organization of being ‘biased’.
Last Friday, about 5,000 Buddhists staged a demonstration against OIC visit in Arakan’s capital Sittwe.
OIC delegation to Burma included members from Indonesia, Malaysia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Djibouti and Bangladesh.
After the delegation visit OIC secretary general, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu was moved to tears by the emotional visit saying: “I’ve never had such a feeling”.
During the visit Ihsanoglu received guarantees from the government to resolve the dilemma of citizenship of more than 800,000 Rohingya Muslims.
In October 2012, OIC tried to open an office in Burma to help Muslims there, but the move was blocked by President Thein Sein following massive protests by Buddhist monks.
Though Monday’s attack resulted in destroying the last safe mosque in the state, Arakan officials minimized the effects of the Buddhist attacks on Muslims.
“It wasn’t that serious – we just had to disperse a mob heading for the mosque,” an official from the Kyaukphyu police station claimed.
“We still don’t know who they were as it was the [Tasaungdai] festival yesterday evening but we are making a list of individuals who might know the [attackers],” the official added.
Arakan government spokesperson, Win Myaing, has also reflected a similar tone.
“It was just a group of men – maybe about 10 – who got drunk on the full moon night and threw rocks at a derelict mosque,” said Win Myaing.
According to Rohingya Blogger (RB), police forces did not interfere to ban the mobs from destroying the mosque.
Yet, after the incident, police intensified security around the mosque, Naing noted.
Muslims in Burma and have been facing repeated attacks by Buddhists in recent months.
Since June, hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been forced to flee their homes in western Burma after attacks from Buddhist mobs on their areas.
The anti-Muslim violence spread to central Burma earlier this year, leaving scores of people dead.
The violence has displaced nearly 29,000 people, more than 97% of whom are Rohingya Muslims, according to the United Nations.
Many now live in camps, adding to 75,000 mostly Rohingya displaced in June 2012, after a previous explosion of sectarian violence.
Burma’s Muslims — largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent — account for an estimated four percent of the roughly 60 million population.
Attack On Mosque in Sweden
Anti-Islam individuals in Sweden have attacked a mosque smashing the building’s windows.
They decorated the Islamic place of worship in the suburbs of the capital Stockholm on Monday, November 18, rtl website reported.
Stockholm police was informed about the attack at 11 A.M., a police spokesperson was quoted as saying.
“At first, we thought robbery was the motivation behind the attack but after arriving at the scene we realized the attackers aimed to desecrate the mosque.”
Fitja, the mosque attacked on Monday, has a 32.5-meter Minaret and is one of the most beautiful mosques in Europe.
Since May this year, the authorities have allowed the mosque to play Adhan (call to prayer) once a week on Fridays.
An estimated 300,000 to 350,000 Muslims live in Sweden, making around 3.5 percent of the Scandinavian country’s total population.
Paris Mosque Attacked
Paris Grand Mosque wall and door have been defaced by anti-Islam offensive graffiti, drawing condemnations from Muslim community and French officials, a few hours after a shooting spree spread panic across the French capital.
“We deeply deplore the racist violence and hostility that have been shown against the Mosque of Paris, the iconic institution of Islam in France,” Dalil Boubakeur, Grand Mosque President, told UPI on Thursday, November 21.
Last Monday, anonymous attackers tagged Paris Grand Mosque with racist, anti-Islam graffiti.
After the attack, the mosque president filed a complaint with the police commissioner at Paris.
The president of the French National Observatory against Islamophobia, Abdallah Zekri, has also deemed the attack as an ‘outrageous’ act.
Zekri himself was a target of anti-Islam attack last October when his home was sprayed by offensive and neo-Nazi statements.
According to the French law, racial attacks and religious defamation crimes are punished by sentencing to a one- year prison and a $60,000 fine.
The mosque attack came on the same day of a shooting spree at the prominent daily newspaper Liberation, a shooting outside French bank Societe Generale and a brief hostage-taking.
On Wednesday, police announced the arrest of Abdelhakim Dekhar in a car in an underground car park at Bois-Colombes in the Paris suburb of Hauts-de-Seine.
The Grand Mosque attack is not the first to target Muslims this month.
Islamophopia was on the rise in France in November, where several Islamic sites were under extremists attacks.
Earlier this month, pig’s skull was thrown into the future Turkish cultural center in Amboise.
Another site of a future mosque in the northern French city of Hazebrouck, was also attacked where two pig heads were found at the site.
The racist graffiti was immediately condemned by French politicians, including Paris mayor.
“Tags that are abusive … are both irresponsible and unacceptable,” Bertrand Delanoe, Paris Mayor, was quoted by Islamophobia Watch.
“By targeting the Muslims of Paris, those who have expressed them are attacking the Muslims of France and betraying the Republican past that binds us all.
“On behalf of the people of Paris and in my own name, I want to assure the rector of the Mosque of Paris, as well as the Muslim community, of my support and my friendship,” Delanoeadded.
Paris Grand Mosque used to be an icon of religious tolerance in France.
During last October’s `Eid Al-Adha, French Prime Minister, Jean-Marc Ayrault, visited the mosque to condemn Islamophobic acts.
Ayrault assured Muslims’ rights for freedom of religion and worship, underlining the importance of the accordance of faiths practices with the laws of the Republic, secularism and beliefs.
Attacks against mosques had almost doubled to 40 in 2012 compared with 2011, the CCIF said.
Last June, a pregnant Muslim woman lost her baby after being attacked by two skinheads for donning Islamic face-veil in the Paris suburb of Argenteuil.
The attack came after a veiled Muslim woman in Argenteuil was targeted in a similar manner.
French Muslims, estimated at nearly six million, have long complained of rising discrimination and hostile sentiments in the European country.
A recent IFOP poll found that almost half of French see Muslims as a threat to their national identity.
France is home to a Muslim minority of six millions, Europe’s largest.
In October 2013, a poll by Ifop’s opinion department found that almost half of French see Muslims as a threat to their national identity.
The poll also found that most French see Islam is playing too influential role in their society.
Last January, another poll by Ipsos and the Jean-Jaures Foundation found that French are growing concerned with immigrants, politicians, globalization and media, with 74 % believe Islam is not compatible with French society.