Myanmar government turns a blind eye to Muslim appeal to grant religious freedom

Myanmar government turns a blind eye to Muslim appeal to grant religious freedom

17th, June 2017 M-Media Reported by Moset

One of the Mosques in Meikhtilar Township that was destroyed by extremists in 2013

Myanmar authorities are still silent to make any positive outcome to the recent request of Muslims reusing six Mosques and two prayer halls which were destroyed in 2013 anti-Muslim violence and refused to open since then.

On Jun 12th, Muslim residents from central Meikhtila Region, where anti-Muslim attacks broke out in 2013, have sent a request letter to Regional government concerning their problem of lacking places of worship to practice their daily religious duty especially in the time of Ramadan.

The letter has also called for permission to reopen six Mosques and two prayer halls or to use temporary places of worship. It is not the first time of Muslim appealing to government officials for getting back their holy houses.

In some neighborhoods of Meikhtila Township, Muslims residents have used some houses as temporary places of worship to make easy for holy month of Ramadan but, in early June, township administrators have summoned local Muslims leaders and barred from this development.

The request of reusing Mosques has been denied by Regional officials claiming that they don’t have authority to do so. The response detracts from the recent comments of country’s religious minister Thura U Aung Ko who publicly said that they  have already decentralized their power to township level – the lowest rank of the administration system – since 2012 in the statement showed in Ministry’s official website concerning legal action to Muslim residents from former capital Yangon for holding services in public street.

In early June, Director of Mandaly Regional government Zaw Tin Moe also told local weekly Friday Times journal that they will act according to the law if Muslims from Meikhtila Township have inconvenience in practicing their religious duty during Ramadan.

“A Mosque in Muslim majority neighborhood of Thirimingalar Ward is still refused to reopen. (anti-Muslim infamous monk) U Wira Thu has accused Muslims of killing a Buddhist monk U Thwbita inside the Mosque. The story was all made up and this happened far from the mosque. But government officials and media didn’t make any effort to give true information about the case. That’s why Mosque is still banned.”, a Trustee from a Mosque told M-Media.

During the days-long anti-Muslim violence in 2013, thirteen Mosque and two prayer halls, hundreds of Muslim homes and Muslim owned businesses have been burnt down and thousands have displaced. So far, only seven Mosques had a permission to reopen.

But some Mosques are situated in Muslim minority neighborhoods and not easy to reach for elderly Muslims from other parts of the town.

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