Burmese Muslims Cancel Eid Festivities

Muslims leave the Masjid Petchampek in Rangoon on Aug. 31, 2011, after performing prayers during Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan, the holy month of fasting. (PHOTO: Reuters)

Many of Burma’s three million Muslims will refrain from celebrating the Islamic festival of Eid Al-Adha on Friday in respect for their fellow Muslim Rohingyas who are suffering in Arakan State, according to the Rangoon-based Burmese [Myanmar] Muslim Association (BMA).

Speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday, Myo Latt, a senior BMA leader, said, “Our brothers and sisters are being murdered and their villages are being burned down in Arakan State. It is for this reason that we will not celebrate Eid.”

Eid Al-Adha is one of the two most celebrated festivals in the Muslim calendar. Also known as the Feast of the Sacrifice, it commemorates the willingness of Ibrahim (known to Christians and Jews as Abraham) to sacrifice his son to God. It marks the end of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca known as the Hajj, and is celebrated with family meals, gifts to children, and acts of charity.

Myo Latt said that, usually, all members of the BMA gather for a grand dinner in Rangoon to mark the holy day, and that this is the first time in living memory that they have decided not to hold the event.

He said that those Muslims in states and cities outside Rangoon who still wanted to hold celebrations to mark Eid could do so.

According to a press release by the BMA on Tuesday, the government could not guarantee security for the Muslim festival, and this was the practical reason why celebrations would not be held.

However, speaking to The Irrawaddy on Wednesday afternoon, Hla Thein, who is also a Muslim community leader in Rangoon, said that the Burmese government had “changed its tune” yet again, and had instructed him that they would in fact provide security for Muslims in Rangoon on Friday.

Many mosques have been burnt down in restive Arakan State where sectarian clashes between the Muslim Rohingya community and Arakanese Buddhists have raged for some four months.

Muslims in areas as remote as Mandalay and Karen and Mon states have expressed fears over holding celebrations in their local communities this year.

“Five Muslim organizations [in Burma] got together to pen an open letter to the president requesting full protection for our brothers in Arakan State,” said Myo Latt. “But we have not as yet received a reply.”

The BMA’s announcement on Wednesday follows days of confusion after mixed messages were sent by local authorities in Rangoon over whether they would allow Eid celebrations to take place—albeit in private venues—and an order reportedly passed on by Chief Minister of Rangoon Myint Swe instructing Muslim communities to cancel all plans for Eid Al-Adha feasts and activities.

“He [Myint Swe] told us not to hold the festival because of a lack of security,” said Hla Thein.

Meanwhile, at least 200 houses were burned down on Wednesday morning and about 20 homes the night before in Arakan’s Kyaukpyu Township amid escalating violence that followed reports of the killing of one Arakanese Buddhist man and two Muslim women over the weekend.

One Kyaukpyu resident told The Irrawaddy on Wednesday morning: “All the houses that were burnt down this morning belonged to Muslims.” He added that the fires spread to some Arakanese Buddhist homes.

A resurgence in the violence reportedly broke out in western Arakan’s Minbyar Township and spread to Mrauk-U and Kyaukpyu by Wednesday night. According to Arakan State Attorney Gen. Hla Thein, the violence in Minbyar started when a Rohingya man fired his catapult at a Buddhist man.

The State government has since imposed a curfew in Minbyar and Mrauk-U.

11 Responses to Burmese Muslims Cancel Eid Festivities

  1. It makes you wonder if Muslim Rohingyas are their brothers, perhaps to them non-Muslim Burmese can never be their brothers too, hence not deserving any respect  or sympathy. Sounds logical and explains the religious conflicts involving Muslims all over the world.

  2. I am very sad that Muslims in Myanmar decided not to celebrate the Eid.  I am a Buddhist Burmese living in the US and I remember that when I was younger, Muslims in Ygn sending curry beef stew to their buddhist neighbors at the end of Eid.  

  3. This is hardly surprising, given the hatred evident and vitriol spewed from posters on this site. The way that many self-styled towering Lilliputian intellectuals shift so easily from intolerance of ‘illegals’ / Bengali to talk of ‘resisting Islamization’ is saddening, especially for a nation which has been a torchbearer for human rights and principled resistance. A similar belligerence towards Muslims arose in the USA after 911, and again there was an ease with which this went from ‘only those who hate us, some of whom happen to be Muslims’ to ‘all Muslims are a potential threat’ – but this was restricted to right-wing idiots and racists.

    The fact that the phenomena has happened in Myanmar thanks to so-called human rights defenders is thoroughly depressing. Everyone needs to stop, take a breath, stop the vitriol and the hatred against all, and think carefully about where all this heading. Recall that Anders Brevik, the bomber and mass killer in Norway, read, agreed with and found support in the anti-foreigner, anti-Muslim writings by well-known commentators in Europe’s newspapers. Show how big and brave you really are, human rights defenders, by rising above and thinking critically about all of this.

  4. Rakhine Buddish Ethnic Extremist spreading the raicism using Facebook/twitter/google bloggs , using the tool “Buddish Religion” and doing ethnic cleansing. Rakhine State government including burmese military wiping out those villages where all of them are islams, not allowing them to run , using the law (Carfew) , block them from running then after 6 pm ,  the same techniques, their extremist will wipe out the whole village, covered by military.  Even DVB is helping them in spreading the news, http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=546542278696366 where you will see Rakhine people in the hospital , no muslim residents are here, where 1000 muslims houses were burnt down, and most of them were killed.    These Rakhine Buddish ethnics, born as racist, were everywhere in the world, whereever they are, they will spread the racism in the country. World should not give them space in their country as they are the criminals, doing crime using media.

  5. I put it to the Burmese Muslim
    1. are you a Burmese Muslim. all or even part Burmese.
    2. are you a rohinga/bengali muslim.
    3. why cannot the question of the current unrest in Rakhine state be referred to as a Communal
        diturbance, rather that raise the RELIGION RED FLAG.
    I put it to the Burmese Muslims – when Buddhist shrines were desecrated in Afghanistan by  Afghan rebels, where were my Burmese Muslim Brothers.
    Burmese have been labelled Barbarians by persons from Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia – the correct expression For this would be POT CALLNG KETTLE BLACK .

    If Burmese Muslims/Rohingas/Bengalis are more comfortable amongst fellow Muslims, please , I am sure your very  well to do fellow Muslim Brothers would/should gladly move the lot to the Paradise  of the Middle East.

  6. Be very careful with orders/statement to ban Eid on Friday.Security reasons,? Yes,prevention is better,but do not fall into the traps of extremist factions.If not muslims in the country,in the region and the world over might interpret the Govt’s.decision as an act of”religious discrimination and repression? and fuel the community tension to new heights.Localized Eid celebrations in calm religious atmosphere could b a solution.Both community elders and religious leaders must take responsibility to controll their respective groups.Security contingents,if any deployed,should remain alert and vigilant but not very intrusive..Allow Eid ceremonies under controlled conditions.It will be unwise to imposed total ban.

  7. The Burmese Freedom Fighter

    All Burmese exile news agencies along with foreign Medias are jumping again at this chance to prove this accident as its politically correct bona fides. No news agencies will try to help finding the solution, but to take advantage of it for their publication promotion.  Buddhist is a popular word in quoting of instigators, especially, when it comes to blame for the violence while Bengali are quoted as harmless and normally the victim of the crisis, running for their lives; effectively giving fuel to make look like: Buddhist-Muslim hatred. 

    Blaming and shaming, including my comment will not help to the deteriorating situation of the nature of the communal riots. Burmese Government has to be very assertive in restoring stability in this rival community. The restrain order and separation of tow rival communities is a must in securing saving its citizens and aliens. Indecisiveness of the government of Burma is a major barrier to stop this communal violent retaliation. It is time to make up its mind for the Burmese government as to which category of residency of Burma belongs to Bengali.  

    The Burmese Freedom Fighter


  9. rohinga problem appears to raise it’s head:
    1. 1950’s – civilian govt
    2. 2012 –  apparent civilian govt.
    why none during military regime – strange coincidence
    first mujahids for a separate state
    what now, with groups in malaysia calling for arms to be supplied to the rohingas

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available. Comments with external links in the body text will be deleted by moderators.