Dutchman held in Mandalay after pulling plug on Buddhist sermon


YANGON — A Dutch tourist has been detained in Mandalay for insulting religion after being accused of pulling the plug on a speaker relaying a late-night Buddhist sermon.

Klass Haytema, 30, has been held since Friday night when he allegedly disconnected the cable linking an amplifier and a speaker at a hall playing the sermon after he complained that it was disturbing him, police said.

“The religious hall is not far from the hotel where he was staying … he said he did it because it was too noisy for him,” Kyi Soe, police chief at Maha Aung Myay township, told AFP.

An angry crowd followed the man back to his hotel, where he was taken into custody by police and later transferred to a Mandalay prison.

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“We detained him for insulting religion,” he said.

He is yet to be charged but the law carries up to a two-year jail term and fine.

Buddhist-majority Myanmar is deeply devout and several foreigners have been found guilty of insulting religion.

In July a Spanish tourist was deported from Myanmar after monks complained about a tattoo of Buddha he had on his leg.

A New Zealand bar manager was arrested in late 2014 and spent more than a year in jail for “insulting religion” by using a Buddha image to promote a cheap drinks night.

Buddhist nationalism has surged in Myanmar in recent years, with the country’s Muslim minority — around five percent of the population — facing particular pressure.

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