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10:08, 24 January 2017 Tuesday
17:45, 08 January 2017 Sunday

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Police deployed to guard Muslim ceremony in Myanmar
Police deployed to guard Muslim ceremony in Myanmar

Nationalists accuse worshipers of planning violence, while those present say they are doing nothing but praying

World Bulletin / News Desk

Security personnel were deployed to guard a Muslim ceremony in Myanmar’s former capital Yangon on Sunday after a group of Buddhist nationalists tried to disrupt the event.

Dozens of police arrived as the crowd tried to interrupt the ceremony in Botataung Township in Yangon, accusing the worshipers of holding it without the approval of local authorities.

Among those trying to stop the event were hardline Buddhist monks, who many blame for a rise in persecution of Muslims in Myanmar.

Police said that the nationalists were in the wrong as permission for the ceremony had been granted.

“We explained to them that the authority already given a permit for this religious event,” police officer Tun Tin said by phone.

“Then they demanded to observe the event, and we allowed five of them to do so after negotiations with Muslim elders."

Muslim residents later complained that some nationalists had behaved badly as they tried to pray.

Thein Nyunt, a Muslim resident of Botataung, said that once they were allowed to observe, the monks then switched attack and accused the worshippers of meeting to plan violence.

“We are just celebrating a religious event. This is ridiculous. They made us feel very unhappy,” he told Anadolu Agency.

“We love our country, and we would never do such a stupid thing,” he underlined.

Hardline nationalist monks -- such as the Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion (Ma Ba Tha) -- rose to prominence in Myanmar on the back of communal violence between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Rakhine State in mid-2012.

Anti-Muslim rhetoric from the group has been seen as deliberately stoking the flames of religious hatred in the predominantly Buddhist country.

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