Dutchman held in Mandalay after pulling plug on Buddhist sermon

By AFP

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.

Support more independent journalism like this. Sign up to be a Frontier member.

“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.

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on email

More stories

Latest Issue

Stories in this issue
Myanmar enters 2021 with more friends than foes
The early delivery of vaccines is one of the many boons of the country’s geopolitics, but to really take advantage, Myanmar must bury the legacy of its isolationist past.
Will the Kayin BGF go quietly?
The Kayin State Border Guard Force has come under intense pressure from the Tatmadaw over its extensive, controversial business interests and there’s concern the ultimatum could trigger fresh hostilities in one of the country’s most war-torn areas.

Stay on top of Myanmar current affairs with our Daily Briefing and Media Monitor newsletters

Our fortnightly magazine is available in print, digital, or a combination beginning at $80 a year

Sign up for our Frontier Fridays newsletter. It’s a free weekly round-up featuring the most important events shaping Myanmar