Respect for religious differences within Asean countries is essential to ensure harmony and stability, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said on Thursday, speaking at the opening of the 8th Asean socio-cultural community council meeting.
“We have seen that religious conflict has been spreading in the world and it has just flowed into our Asean region,” he said, without naming any country. Burma has been wracked this by widespread sectarian attacks pitting Muslim Rohingya against Rakhine natives, who are mostly Buddhist.
“Practically, violence and mutually brutal killings among different religious believers in some of Asean member states in the recent past are a new event that is attracting interest from international community,” Hun Sen said.
He said that it was very important to give attention to religious issues in order to ensure stability, sustainability and harmony on religious beliefs in the Asean region.
“The strengthening of religious harmony in our region is the most necessary task,” he said, adding that the bloc should not underestimate such conflict.
He claimed Cambodia has had no religious violence.
“For the time being, Cambodia is fortunate because the country has never had religious violence even though 96 percent of the country's population is Buddhist, 2 percent is Muslim, and the remaining 2 percent is Christian and other religions,” he said.
Founded in 1967, Asean groups Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.