Myanmar Buddhist extremists block Muslims from performing Hajj

(AhlulBayt News Agency) - Extremist Buddhists in Myanmar have prevented several Rohingya Muslims from embarking on the once in a lifetime journey of the annual Hajj pilgrimage.

13 Rohingya Muslims from Maungdaw City and 8 from Buthidaung City took a southern route in the city of Maungdaw on a bus en route to Akyab, the capital of Muslim-majority Rakhine state, but were surprised by a group of extremist Buddhists surrounding their car and blocking the road, preventing them from leaving the city.

This is despite the fact that Muslims had embarked on the pilgrimage to Mecca after receiving a government permit from the Ministry of Religious Affairs.

During the incident, state security forces intervened and ordered the Muslims to return to their homes saying they were not satisfied with the government’s permission to allow them to leave for the Hajj.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has sent hundreds of troops to beef up security in the northwestern Rakhine state fueling fears of yet more violence against Muslims in the restive region.

Rakhine was plunged into renewed violence last October when security forces started a brutal operation against Rohingya Muslim during which government troops have engaged in rape, killings, torture and pillage across the region.

The country’s de-facto leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, who was awarded the Nobel peace prize in 1991, has been criticized by more than a dozen fellow laureates for the armed response. They wrote an open letter to the UN Security Council warning of a tragedy “amounting to ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity” in Rakhine state.

Rakhine State in west Myanmar has seen the most serious violence perpetrated against Muslims in predominantly Buddhist Myanmar since the military began to end its decades of strict rule. Reports indicate that thousands of Rohingya Muslims killed and hundreds of thousands displaced there in attacks by government forces and extremists Buddhists since in 2012 in a deliberate state-backed policy of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

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