With just over a month until Myanmar’s landmark elections, there are rising concerns over the use of religion to stoke fears and marginalize minorities. On Sunday, thousands of monks and supporters of a nationalist Myanmar Buddhist group held a rally in Yangon celebrating “victory” in the passing of four controversial race and religion laws. The Committee for the Protection of Nationality and Religion, better known by its Myanmar acronym Ma Ba Tha, has held events in almost all of Myanmar’s 14 states and regions in recent weeks to celebrate parliament’s passing of the bills, with the support of the military-backed ruling party.
The laws, which include Buddhist women having to register with local authorities if they want to marry a non-Buddhist, and punishment for those living with an unmarried partner, were signed into law this year by President Thein Sein.
In searing heat at an indoor sports stadium in eastern Yangon, thousands of monks and laypeople in t-shirts bearing the Ma Ba Tha logo clapped and cheered as prominent monks spoke of the importance of the laws in protecting Buddhist identity.
Much of the perceived threat is seen as coming from the Muslim community, with senior Ma Ba Tha figures regularly criticizing Muslim groups.
Full Article: Myanmar’s Buddhist Nationalists Rally Support Ahead of Poll.