10/25/2012, 00.00
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Anti-Rohingya violence: Burmese Muslims not celebrating the Feast of Sacrifice

The Burmese Muslim Association (BMA) calls on three million Muslims not to celebrate the Eid al-Adha in public. A Muslim leader warns that Muslims are "being killed" and their villages "turned into ashes". In Sittwe, hundreds of Burmese university students march against Rohingya presence near their campus.

Yangon (AsiaNews/Agencies) - The Burmese Muslim Association (BMA) has called on Muslims across the country to cancel celebrations associated with the Eid al-Adha, one of the most important festivities on the Muslim calendar that begins on 26 October. The decision is connected with the renewed anti-Rohingya violence of the past few days that left three people dead, forced many from their homes and saw fire destroy thousands of homes.

"Our Muslim brothers and sisters are being killed and their villages are being turned into ashes in Arakan (Rakhine) State," in western Burma on the border with Bangladesh, BMA leader Myo Latt said. In view of this, he urged Burma's three million Muslims to demonstrate their solidarity towards the Rohingya minority.  

The recent wave of violence in Rakhine has forced thousands of people from their homes. And the tensions between the Buddhist majority and the Muslim minority continue to rise.

Reports from local sources indicate that clashes are not stopping. Last night, in the coastal town of Kyaukphyu, famous for its oil and gas projects, the authorities imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew. A state of emergency imposed in June also remains in place.

Today more than 800 students at Sittwe University marched "against the presence of Rohingya homes" near the campus and for an end to "studying with terrorist Bengalis," as the Rohingya are called by the majority.

In a show of solidarity, Burmese Muslim leaders responded by cancelling celebrations associated with Eid al-Adha. The feast commemorates Abraham's sacrifice, who was willing to kill his son as an act of obedience to God, but who killed a ram instead following the intervention of an angel. In Islam, the celebration symbolises faith, submission and total and unquestioned obedience to God.

"Usually the BMA organises a big banquet in Yangon," which is "never cancelled," Myo Latt said. "But next Friday, Muslims will not celebrate the Eid in public."

Last June, the District Court in Kyaukphyu imposed the death sentence on three Muslims for the rape and murder in late May of Thida Htwe, a young Buddhist Arakanese (Rakhine).

The ruling sparked sectarian clashes between Muslims and Buddhists. In the days after the trial, an angry mob attacked Muslims, killing ten of them who were unconnected with the incident.

So far, the spiral of hatred has caused the death of 29 more people, 16 Muslims and 13 Buddhists. According to official sources at least 2,600 homes were set on fire, whilst hundreds of Rohingya sought refuge abroad.

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