Burma: Buddhist Mobs Burn Down Muslim Homes and Shops

The Guardian, August 25, 2013

Fresh sectarian violence broke out in north-western Burma late on Saturday when Buddhist mobs burned down dozens of homes and shops following rumours that a young woman had been sexually assaulted by a Muslim man. There were no reports of injuries.

Myanmar’s radical monk Wirathu, whose anti-Muslim rhetoric has placed him at the centre of rising religious violence, said on his Facebook page that hundreds of people took part in the riot on the outskirts of Kantbalu.

A crowd surrounded the police station demanding that the suspect be handed over, said a police officer from the area, who asked not to be named because he did not have authority to speak to the media.

When police refused, they started setting buildings on fire, he said.

About 35 houses and 12 shops, most belonging to Muslims, were destroyed before calm was restored, he said.

Predominantly Buddhist Burma has been grappling with sectarian violence since the country’s military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government in 2011.

More than 250 people have been killed, most of them Muslims, and 140,000 others forced to flee their homes.


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