By NYAN HLAING LYNN | FRONTIER
NAY PYI TAW — Authorities in Kyaukpadaung have demolished an under-construction house in order to quell an angry mob that believed it was a mosque – despite the central Mandalay Region town apparently having no Muslim residents.
Although the property in Thayar Aye Ward is owned by a Buddhist, rumours began spreading three days ago that the building was a mosque, said Mandalay Region Hluttaw lawmaker U Aye Khaing (National League for Democracy, Kyaukpadaung-1).
“I cannot think of how the rumour started in a town that takes pride in the fact that there is no believers of religions other than Buddhism. We could not have been able to confirm reports that among the rumourmongers there were strangers – people who were not residents,” Aye Khaing said.
He told Frontier that a crowd of around 100 people had gathered outside the house Thursday morning and grew throughout the day. By nightfall there were more than 1,000 people outside the property threatening to torch it to the ground.
Officials from the General Administration Department and security forces, together with local MPs, checked the house and confirmed that it was not a mosque. Aye Khaing said the mob refused to accept their word though so they decided that in order to restore order it had to be demolished. Heavy machinery was brought and pulled it down by 9:15pm, he said.
“Due to the fact that the house was being built without municipal approval and to avoid unrest in town, responsible township officials decided to dismantle it,” said Aye Khaing, who was present as the officials tried to bring the situation under control.
Union government spokesman U Zaw Htay confirmed that the house in Kyaukpadaung had been dismantled because of rumours it was a mosque.
“For the moment it is only known that the house belongs to a 19-year-old movie director. It was caused by the mistaken belief that it was a mosque,” Zaw Htay told Frontier last night, adding that the authorities expected to know more, including who started the rumour, by this morning.
“It would be reasonable if it 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,” he said.