Monday, June 24, 2024


Dhaka Tribune

Fake Rohingya photos seek communal strife

Update : 08 Jun 2015, 06:56 PM

Radical Islamist groups have been instigating attacks on religious minorities in Bangladesh by posting fake photos and false information on social media about the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Buddhist-majority Myanmar.

People behind some Facebook pages and profiles, many from Bangladesh, are urging common Muslims to spread the false news and take revenge.

Photos of Thailand protesters forced by the army to lie on a shore in 2004, Tibetan Buddhists rescuing victims’ bodies after the 2010 earthquake in China, charred bodies from a 2010 gas tanker explosion in DR Congo, a Tibetan youth running on a Delhi street after setting himself on fire in 2012 are all being associated with the persecution.

The fake photos resurfaced after the recent media outcry over the fate of the Rohingyas and Bangladeshis rescued from the sea.

While extremists are spreading fake photos to draw the sympathy of common Muslims, many progressive activists are trying to make people aware and urging them to verify any photos on Google before sharing. They are also advising citizens to seek police protection.

The jihadi blueprint!

Last year, after al-Qaeda chief Zawahiri announced forming wings in India, Myanmar and Bangladesh, some local militant groups started working to establish an Islamic country, detectives say.

Apart from local Muslims, many Rohingyas actively participated in the planned attacks on Buddhists at Cox’s Bazar in 2012 following sectarian clashes in Myanmar. They instigated the attacks by falsely claiming that one Buddhist youth had insulted Islam on Facebook.

Reports say Jamaat-e-Islami and some local militant outfits including Jama’atul Mujahideen Bangladesh (JMB), Harkat-ul Jihad al-Islami (Huji) and Ansarullah Bangla Team have been recruiting Rohingyas.

These local groups have links with the Rohingya Solidarity Organisation (RSO) and international terrorist groups Islamic State, al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

Police sources and locals say many unregistered Rohingyas have been involved in crimes such as trafficking and smuggling yaba. Some of them have also joined RSO, an outfit banned in Myanmar, seeking independence of Rakhine state that houses most of the Rohingya Muslims.

Kushum Dewan, deputy commissioner of Chittagong Metropolitan Police, told the Dhaka Tribune that they also had noticed fake posts and photos on social media.

“One of our specialised teams has started to track down the network responsible for spreading the propaganda,” he said.

He added that they had not received any complaints yet, “but since the issue is alarming, we have volunteered.”

Kushum also said they had no information about RSO’s activities in Bangladesh recently.

Shaikh Nazmul Alam, deputy commissioner of police’s Detective Branch (DB), said: “We have some information about some Facebook users and hope to arrest them soon.”

The Chittagong Metropolitan Police Commissioner Abdul Jalil Mondol said most of the  suspects using social media to instigate communal violence were connected to Jamaat-Shibir.

State Minister for Home Affairs Asaduzzaman Khan said the government had taken necessary steps against militant outfits and extremist groups. 

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