New Delhi (Mizzima) – The Rangoon-based All Burma Islam Organization announced on Thursday that it would not hold the Eid al-Fitr festival on Saturday because of the sectarian violence in Rakhine State. The festival holiday celebrates the conclusion of the dawn-to-sunset fasting during the month of Ramadan.
Joint General-Secretary Wunna Shwe said the festival would be cancelled because of the dead and injured and the ongoing suffering in the western region where communal clashes have claimed dozens of people dead and thousands of homes burned.
“We feel very sorry for this…,” he said. “We want the rule of law to be restored there again. After this conflict in Rakhine State, respect and understanding between two religions has been gradually eroded."
There was a fear that if the festival were held, it would cause further misunderstandings and possible violence between the Muslim and Buddhist communities, he said.
88-Generation student leader Mya Aye, who is Muslim, said that the five Muslim groups in the organization decided not to hold the festival this year to avoid possible confrontation with other communities, and to avoid possible violence.
“Some people drag this Rakhine issue to convert it to a religious conflict,” he said. He said the security offered by the Burmese government is not enough to cover all Muslims throughout the country.
“In this situation, a tiny spark can ignite the whole country, and it will not be good for our country as well as for our society,” he said.
The cancelation of the festival has taken place three times in Burma recently: in 1983, 1987 and 1997 because of conflicts with the Buddhist community, said Wunna Shwe.
The festival, also called Feast of Breaking the Fast, is an important religious holiday celebrated by Muslims worldwide that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month.