Wirathu barred from Pathein speaking trip after U Ko Ni murder


YANGON — U Wirathu, a notorious Buddhist nationalist monk known for scathing anti-Islam tirades, has been barred from speaking at an event after the Sunday murder of National League for Democracy legal advisor U Ko Ni.

An official from the southern city of Pathein said Thursday that local authorities cancelled an event due to be held this week by Wirathu, a senior figure of the Association for the Protection of Race and Religion, better known by its Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha.

“The preaching event by U Wirathu is banned because of security reasons at this moment,” a regional government official told AFP on the condition of anonymity.

Director of the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture Aung San Win also told AFP the government was trying to restrict “writing that could incite tension over the assassination of NLD party legal advisor U Ko Ni”.

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The ministry warned of fake news circulating on social media aimed at “destroying the stability of the state using harsh words that could lead to religious conflicts”.

Ko Ni was a rare voice for religious pluralism and his killing has sent shock waves through Myanmar’s already hard-pressed Muslim community.

The 63-year-old also criticised the military’s lingering grip on power over the Daw Aung San Suu Kyi government, which has described his death as a political assassination.

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