Buddhist monks in Myanmar seek to ban schoolgirls' veil

Buddhist monks in Myanmar proposing to prevent Muslim schoolgirls from wearing Muslim veil

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Scores of Buddhist monks are seeking to ban the Muslim headscarf for schoolgirls and are avidly encouraging people to vote for candidates who will not let their “race and religion disappear” in this year’s upcoming elections.

The monks who are part of the far-right Organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion (Ma Ba Tha) asserted that the headscarf was not “in line with school discipline.”

Ma Ba Tha was officially formed in June 2013, amid the Buddhist mob violence against Muslim Rohingyas.

Hundreds of thousands of Rohingya Muslims have been displaced after the inter-communal violence began in the Rakhine State of Myanmar.

About 1,300 monks from monasteries around Myanmar gathered to discuss plans to promote a nationalist and religious agenda, saying “We will demand seriously for the government to ban Muslim students wearing the burqa in government schools and to ban the killing of innocent animals on their Eid holiday,” referring to the Muslim holiday in which an animal is sacrificed and its meat is given to the needy.

One monk, Pamaukkha said: “When they live in Myanmar, they need to obey the law and regulations of the country. We are not targeting or attacking their religion.”

"Bengali people don't respect Buddhism, so they are not Myanmar citizens. It's as simple as that," Thu Dammyra, a monk from Ma Ba Tha Buddhist organisation told Reuters in May at a rally in the country.

The term “Bengali” is used disparagingly to refer to Rohingya Muslims implying that they are not natives of Myanmar but rather “illegal immigrants.”

Rohingya, who are natives of the west of Myanmar, Arakan, since the 16th century, were once a flourishing kingdom, and their long history contradicts the claims that they are “illegal Bengali immigrants.”

The government’s treatment of Muslims in Myanmar, along with the violence they face in the hands of Buddhist mobs has recently been an issue of international concern.

Millions of Rohingya are denied citizenship and live in apartheid-like conditions along with frequent violent attacks by Buddhist mobs.

Myanmar’s outcasts, the Rohingya people are an ethnic group of roughly 1.3 million, not represented by the government of Myanmar and stripped of citizenships and human rights.

These people are “one of the world’s most persecuted minority groups,” according to the BBC.

Consequently, tens of thousands of Rohingya have taken to the seas in search of better lives elsewhere.

Gruesome discoveries of tortured and abandoned people in the jungles of south Asia were found two years ago after machete-wielding extremists killed hundreds of Rohingya Muslims.

The Myanmar government does not accept responsibility for the plight of millions of Rohingya.

Buddhists monks have also demanded the Myanmar government resist international pressure to give the Rohingya more rights during the scheduled crisis meeting in Thailand.

Furthermore, the current Myanmar administration with Thein Sein as president, has drafted four laws restricting interfaith marriage and religious conversion, also banning polygamy and implicated population growth limitations.

It was after the 1948 declaration of Myanmar’s independence that the exclusion and persecution of Rohingya began in the country. And in 1982, Ne Win, military ruler of the time, stripped these people of their citizenship in their own land.

TRTWorld and agencies