Myanmar Mob Burns Down Mosque as Buddhist-Muslim Tensions Rise

Yangon, 28 Ramadan 1437/03 July 2016 (MINA) – A mob has burned down a mosque in northern Myanmar – the second such attack in just over a week in the predominantly Buddhist nation.

The state-owned Global New Light of Myanmar newspaper reported on Saturday that security forces in Hpakant in Kachin state were unable to stop the attackers.

Some 500 people gathered outside the mosque late Friday, many of them welding sticks, knives and other weapons and demanding that the security forces allow them to raze the Muslims’ place of worship.

According to local officials, the mosque administration failed to meet a June 30 deadline to raze the structure to make way for a bridge.

“Some parts of the mosque were set on fire by the mob,” a local police officer said on condition of anonymity.

“When about 150 people forcibly entered the mosque compound, we could no longer control the situation,” he added.

The “Global New Light of Myanmar” newspaper said no arrests had been made.



Conflicting accounts

Ma Ba Tha, a Buddhist nationalist group, accused the village’s Muslim residents of building the mosque without permission from the authorities.

But Thein Aung, chairman of the mosque’s caretaker group, claims the structure was built more than 20 years ago.

It was the second attack on a mosque in over a week. On June 23, a Buddhist mob targeted a mosque and other religious buildings in a Muslim-dominated village in the Bago region, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) southeast of Yangon. The attack left a Muslim man injured and forced the minority community to seek refuge in a neighboring town.

The renewed tensions are likely to put more pressure on the government headed by the National League for Democracy, of which Suu Kyi is president.

“There was much hope that democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi would change the situation and work for a more inclusive political culture. But the Nobel laureate has surprised political observers by maintaining a disturbing silence regarding the plight of the Rohingyas,” Siegfried O. Wolf, a researcher at the University of Heidelberg’s South Asia Institute, told Deuthche Welle. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)