Myanmar blocks OIC office after rallies

Myanmar's president blocked a world Islamic body from opening an office in the country, an official said Monday, bowing to rallies against government efforts to help Muslims in unrest-hit Rakhine state.

Myanmar Buddhist monks hold a banner as they take part in a demonstration in Yangon, against the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Myanmar's president blocked a world Islamic body from opening an office in the country, an official said Monday, bowing to rallies against government efforts to help Muslims in unrest-hit Rakhine state.

"The president will not allow an OIC office because it is not in accordance with the people's desires," said an official from Myanmar leader Thein Sein's office, after thousands of monks held the latest protests against the Organisation of the Islamic Conference in two major cities on Monday.

The official, who asked not to be named, declined to comment on an agreement signed with the OIC, the top world Muslim body, which confirmed to AFP last week that it had obtained the green light to open an office in the country.

Thousands of monks protested in the country's commercial hub Rangoon and second-largest city Mandalay on Monday, with another demonstration in the town of Pakokku in Magway region in central Myanmar, according to organisers.

"We cannot accept any OIC office here," Oattamathara, a monk leading the Mandalay protest, told AFP.

Sectarian tensions are running high following Buddhist-Rohingya clashes in June in western Rakhine which left dozens of people dead and forced tens of thousands to seek refuge in temporary shelters.

Members of the 57-member OIC toured Rakhine last month after accusations from rights groups that security forces opened fire on Rohingya during the sectarian unrest, prompting concern across the Islamic world.

About the author

columnist
Writer: AFP
Position: News agency