Over 500 Buddhist artifacts looted in Bangladesh;

More than 500 artifacts were stolen from Buddhist monasteries in a coordinated attack on the minority faith in Bangladesh last month.

Fourteen Buddhist monasteries reportedly came under attack by mobs of Islamists, as well as from Muslim Rohingya refugees from neighboring Myanmar (Burma).

However, a criminal network with high level political links network may have capitalized on hostility toward the Buddhist faith, possibly coordinating some of the attacks and ensuring that valuables were removed, ready to be shipped to buyers.

According to the Bangladesh-based Weekly Blitz, the “rarest Buddhist scriptures and remains of [a] Buddha [statue] were en-route to various destinations in the world with the help of a Chittagong-based businessman-cum-politician.”

The Bangladeshi newspaper tipped off the Rapid Action Battalion, who were able to recover a 12 centimeter-long “precious Buddha statue” from the Kacchapia union council in the Cox’s Bazar district.

In related new, Reuters reports that Buddhist monks in Myanmar have protested against a proposal by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to set up a liaison office in northwest Rakhine, Myanmar. The proposal comes in the aftermath of conflict between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim Rohingya minority, many of which have fled into Bangladesh in recent months.

The OIC represents 57 Muslim-majority states, but is sometimes regarded as an Islamist or supremacist organization. many of the states represented by the OIC discriminate against their own minority faiths. Saudi Arabia, probably the most important of the member states, prohibits the worship of any other religion than Islam inside the Middle Eastern kingdom.

Myanmar President Thein Sein’s office has issued a statement, saying, “The government will not allow the opening of an OIC office as it is not in accordance with the desire of people.”