Is the in­ter­faith pray­ing cer­e­mony re­ally ef­fec­tive?

The Myanmar Times - - News - NAW BETTY HAN naw­bet­ty­han@mm­times.com

ON MONDAY, pub­lic an­nounce­ment was made that the in­ter­faith cer­e­mony will be held at the Aung San Studium on the evening of Oc­to­ber 10.

Or­gan­is­ers an­nounced that the cer­e­mony is to take place in har­mony among the dif­fer­ent re­li­gious groups. They also in­formed the pub­lic that the event will be held from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.

On the day of the event, the sur­round­ing of Aung San Sta­dium trans­formed: light bulbs have been re­placed and many street ven­dors van­ished. Se­cu­rity at the en­trance of the sta­dium has been buffed up as gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and par­lia­men­tar­i­ans will be at­tend­ing along with the pub­lic.

“We have been warned by mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cers since Oc­to­ber 9 morn­ing not to stay near the sta­dium,” said U Aye Thaung, a street ven­dor.

Traffic jam swelled around the sta­dium as Maha Ban­dula Road, fac­ing the City Hall, was shut down for se­cu­rity rea­sons.

“I took too much time to go from Tamwe to Sule, about one hour and it shouldn’t be. I can’t be peace­ful with to­day’s traffic prob­lem,” said U Moe Win, a taxi driver in Yan­gon.

A large crowd from var­i­ous re­li­gious back­grounds gath­ered at the sta­dium. They looked pleased with the ini­tia­tive, hop­ing for peace through their prayers.

As usual, so­cial me­dia had much to say about the cer­e­mony, with opin­ions rang­ing from an ex­treme to the other.

Some sug­gested that it was the Na­tional League for Democ­racy (NLD) party’s strat­egy alike that of the mil­i­tary gov­ern­ment prior to 2010. Some blamed the event for ex­tended traffic jams. Some op­posed the cer­e­mony, skep­ti­cal of its im­pact. But oth­ers were pleased by the move, hop­ing for a bet­ter fu­ture.

“I’m not sure why the gov­ern­ment holds the in­ter­faith pray­ing cer­e­mony. How will it re­ally af­fect the Rakhine con­flict? I won­der whether it is be­cause of the Rakhine is­sue or in view of the com­ing elec­tions,” ques­tioned U Myint Aung, a Yan­gon res­i­dent.

‘I’m not sure why the gov­ern­ment holds the in­ter­faith pray­ing cer­e­mony. How will it re­ally af­fect the Rakhine con­flict?’

U Myint Aung Yan­gon res­i­dent

The pray­ing cer­e­mony is held na­tion­wide un­der the lead­er­ship of the NLD and the party has re­quested ev­ery state and re­gion to host the event.

The NLD-led gov­ern­ment is fac­ing in­creas­ing in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to ad­dress the cur­rent cri­sis in Rakhine State where thou­sands have been dis­placed as Myan­mar’s mil­i­tary re­sponded to ter­ror at­tacks.

As a re­sponse, the gov­ern­ment in­tends to pro­mote har­mony among the var­i­ous re­li­gions to ease in­ter­nal pres­sure.

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