Three Muslims have been indicted by Myanmar’s authorities for holding Ramadan prayers in the street where the local school they used to worship in for decades was closed by a nationalist mob.
Police charged the three men after nearly 50 Muslims gathered to pray on Wednesday on a road in Yangon’s Thaketa township, the site of one of an increasing number of raids by Buddhist extremists on Islamic events.
The news comes as two nearby Islamic schools were shut down in late April after ultra-nationalists complained that Muslims were illegally praying there. Back then, authorities said the closure is temporary, without clarifying when they may be reopened.
Local Muslim leader Zaw Min Latt said, “We feel sorry. This month is important for us,” referring to the holy month of Ramadan.
“We used those schools for prayer for decades. These restrictions have been brought in after more than 60 years.”
Fifty-year-old resident Khin Soe said, “It’s our mosque as well as our school. We don’t know when it will be reopened.”
Local authorities issued a statement, saying the prayer session threatened “stability and the rule of law” in the predominantly Muslim neighborhood in the east of Yangon.
A police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed the charges.
Meanwhile, two officers attempted to ban reporters from filming when they visited one of the madrasas on Friday.
Buddhist-dominated Myanmar has a history of discrimination against the persecuted Rohingya Muslim community.