Hundreds in Myanmar protest phrase ‘Muslims in Rakine State’

Nay Pyi Taw, July 10 (IANS) Hundreds of people took to the streets of Yangon on Sunday to oppose a government order that media and the public use the phrase “Muslims in Rakhine State” to refer to the state’s local people who practice Islam.

On June 16, the Myanmar Ministry of Information requested local media to use the phrase for local Muslims, in a bid to placate tensions surrounding the commonly-used derogatory term “Bengalis”, which labels Muslim minorities in Rakhine state as foreigners, Efe news reported.

The Arakan National Party earlier this month also slammed the new term, saying that it wrongly gives the impression that Muslims in Rakhine State are on equal footing with regards to citizenship claims.

“We don’t accept the new term, as they are ‘Bengalis’. So, we will express our strong objection by rallying,” said Soe Naing, a member of the nationalist Rakhine Social Network, on July 3 ahead of a previous rally.

Muslim communities in Rakhine state often define themselves as Rohingya, a term derived from the early Islamic name for the state, “Rohang”. But State Counsellor and National League for Democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has refrained from using the controversial word, which implies Rohingyas have rights to citizenship.

–IANS

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