The newly appointed minister for religious and cultural affairs, Thura Aung Ko said Islam in Myanmar is no more than a religion practiced by foreign immigrants. He stated this controversial remark during the interview with VOA Burmese on his first day at the office.
He mentioned that in Myanmar, Buddhism is practiced by majority Burmese, Christianity is practiced by ethnic minorities while Islam and Hindu are practiced by foreign immigrants. He furthermore remarked that Thein Sein’s regime and the junta did not discriminate against the religions which are being practiced by minorities albeit the piles of UN and HRW reports show against his statement.
A retired military officer and the former deputy minister for religious affairs until he contested the 2010 election, Thura Aung Ko got a promotion under the NLD regime recently. He was born in 1948, and served the Tatmadaw from 1969 to 1997.
Islam is recognised constitutionally in Myanmar. The first evidence of Muslims landing in Myanmar’s chronicle was, according to a book titiled “Sasana Yaung Wa Htoongar Se’phoe” which was released by the junta in 1997, 1200 years ago.
Photo: Thura Aung Ko, Minister for religious and cultural affairs under NLD’s regime