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Muslim leaders call Eid protest

Celebrations vetoed to support Rohingyas

Muslim Rohingyas pray in a makeshift mosque in Rakhine (photo by Daniel Wynn) Muslim Rohingyas pray in a makeshift mosque in Rakhine (photo by Daniel Wynn)
  • Daniel Wynn, Yangon
  • Myanmar
  • October 24, 2012
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Islamic leaders in Myanmar say they are canceling celebrations for the Eid al-Adha holiday which starts on Friday, in protest at what they say is the government’s failure to protect Muslims in Rakhine state.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Myanmar Islam Association (MIA) called on all Muslims in the country to pray but not celebrate the festival following sectarian violence in the west of Myanmar that has seen about 100 people, both Muslims and Buddhists, die since June.

Eid al-Adha is one of the most significant dates on the Islamic calendar. “We will miss this great religious day because of the conditions confronting Muslims in Myanmar,” said an MIA representative.

The Muslim group also accused the authorities of adding new restrictions on celebrating the holy day in some areas. It expressed concern that some NGOs are engaged in anti-Muslim activities and that mosques continue to be destroyed in Myanmar.

Zaw Min Naing, secretary of the Myanmar Muslim Youth Association, said money raised for Eid celebrations marking the end of the Hajj pilgrimage would be distributed to the poor.

“The essence of the festival is performing good deeds for the poor and less fortunate which we will do this year,” he said.

Muslims accuse many people in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar of increasingly anti-Islamic behavior.

Last week, the government reversed a decision to allow the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to open a liaison office in Myanmar following protests led by Buddhist monks in Yangon, Mandalay and Sittwe, the capital of Rakhine.

The OIC has expressed outrage at the treatment of minority Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine state, which has witnessed fresh sectarian violence since Sunday leading to the deaths of at least two people, according to state press.

Related reports

Fresh fighting kills three in Rakhine
Government blocks Muslim support group
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