Anti-Muslim Myanmar monk banned from delivering sermons

2017-03-11 21:02
Myanmar hardline Buddhist monk Wirathu. (Romeo Gacad, AFP)

Myanmar hardline Buddhist monk Wirathu. (Romeo Gacad, AFP)

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Yangon - A Myanmar monk infamous for his bilious anti-Muslim tirades has been banned from giving sermons for a year by the country's top Buddhist body, an unprecedented slapdown to man whose hate speech has galvanised religious tensions.

Wirathu, a monk once dubbed the "face of Buddhist terror", has led calls for restrictions on Myanmar's Muslim population, penning hyperbolic speeches warning of an Islamic takeover of the overwhelmingly Buddhist country.

Myanmar is gripped by deepening religious tensions that have repeatedly spilled into violence.

The unrest has been partially attributed to anti-Muslim rhetoric spread by Wirathu's radical wing Buddhist monks.

Aung San Suu Kyi's government is under strong international pressure to explain a bloody crackdown on the Muslim Rohingya minority in the Rakhine State over recent months.

The February assassination of Ko Ni, a respected and high-profile Muslim lawyer and long-time Suu Kyi ally, also heightened tensions.

Scores of people

Wirathu, who draws large crowds to his stock-in-trade Islamophobic speeches or social media posts, had already been barred from speaking at an event shortly after Ko Ni's murder.

But a special meeting of the country's most senior monks - the State Sangha Maha Nayaka - decided to ban all of his sermons.

"As he has repeatedly delivered hate speech against religions to cause communal strife and hinder efforts to uphold the rule of law" the monk "was banned from delivering sermons across Myanmar for a year", the council said in a statement.

He will face "action under the rule of law" for any breach of the order, the Sangha added, without specifying the punishment.

Muslims make up about five percent of Myanmar's population.

Religious riots have roiled the country in recent years, killing scores of people - the majority of them Muslims.


Read more on:    myanmar  |  religion

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