At the entrance to Thaungtan village there’s a brand-new sign, bright yellow, that bears the message: “No Muslims allowed to stay overnight. No Muslims allowed to rent houses. No marriage with Muslims.”
The post was erected in late March by Buddhist residents of the village in Myanmar’s lush Irrawaddy delta region who signed, or were strong-armed into signing, a document asserting that they wanted to live separately.
Since then a couple of other villages across the country have followed suit. Small but viciously insular, these “Buddhist-only” outposts serve as microcosms of the festering religious tensions that threaten Myanmar’s nascent experiment with democracy.
After decades of military rule, Myanmar has entered a new era. As state counsellor, Aung San Suu Kyi is in charge, though key institutions remain under the army’s control.
Recent weeks, however, have brought a surge in nationalist activity. Scores rallied outside the US embassy in Yangon last month to demand diplomats stop using the word Rohingyato describe millions of Muslims confined to internal displacement camps and villages in western Myanmar. Nationalists insist the group are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. Read the complete article at The Guardian