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Nationalist mob forces authorities to tear down house rumored to be a mosque

Authorities brought in heavy machinery to demolish the building late last night. Photo: Facebook / Lwin Oo

July 30, 2017

A house under construction in the town of Kyaukpadaung, located in the Mandalay Region, has been demolished after an angry mob gathered outside insisting that the structure was being built to be a mosque.

According to Frontier, the owner of the building — located in the town’s Thayar Aye Ward — is a Buddhist, but rumors that the building was, or least going to be, a mosque, began spreading a few days ago.

On Thursday morning, a 100-strong mob gathered outside the building, and their numbers grew throughout the day until there were more than 1,000 people by nightfall.

Although local officials including MPs surveyed the building and confirmed that it was not a mosque, the protestors refused to listen. Kyaukpadaung MP Aye Khaing told Frontier that because the house was being built without the proper permits, and so as to appease the angry crowd, they finally decided to tear down the building, which was demolished by 9:15pm.

Photos of the house being demolished by heavy machinery began circulating on social media late Thursday night.

Government spokesperson Zaw Htay said that the house belonged to a 19-year-old movie director, although the teen’s identity was not revealed.

He explained, “It would be reasonable if it [the town] is a place with Muslims. But Kyaukpadaung is a town without any mosques and mosques are not allowed to be built. The owner of the house is a Buddhist. So we are inquiring as to how it all started.”

Kyaukpadaung officials were possibly trying to avoid a repeat of May’s Mingalar Taung Nyunt incident during which a mob of radical nationalists beat up two Muslim residents. The crowd gathered outside of an apartment that they alleged were housing ‘illegal Bengalis’ — referring to Rohingya Muslims — and only dispersed after police fired warning shots. An inspection of the apartment in question revealed that no Rohingya refugees were being housed there.

Prior to that, two Muslim schools in Thaketa township were shut down after radical Buddhist mobs gathered in front of the institutions and demanded their closure.

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