YANGON, Myanmar - Mobs are forcing government authorities in Myanmar to restrict Muslims from worshipping during the holy month of Ramadan.
Temporary houses and structures, set up as makeshift mosques, have had to be shut down amidst threats by mobs, forcing Muslims to pray in the streets, for which they could be arrested.
The leader of Myanmar's Muslim community on Thursday called on the government to protect Muslims' religious rights.
This came after a group of around 200 people on Wednesday night surrounded one of three houses, designated as temporary places of worship for Ramadan in Yangon’s South Dagon town by regional authorities, demanding the building be closed.
After a request from local municipal officials, Muslim residents agreed to close all three places of worship the same night in an effort to avoid further tension.
"As the mob threatened potential attacks, the township administrator and police requested Muslim residents to agree on the closure," regional official U Nyi Nyi told Anadolu Agency by phone on Thursday.
He said the regional government had only allowed 3 out of fifteen houses to be used as temporary religious facilities during Ramadan, which began on May 6. Wunna Shwe, Secretary General of the Islamic Religious Affairs Council, demanded the government protect Muslims' basic rights during the holy month.
"Muslims there don’t even have a single place for worship," he told Anadolu Agency on Thursday." Authorities should protect them instead of pleasing the rioters," he added.
Myanmar has a long history of preventing Muslims from worshipping during Ramadan. Authorities have even arrested Muslims for praying in the street because they have nowhere to go and worship.