Nationalist Monks Celebrate Passing of Myanmar Race and Religion Bills

Thousands of Myanmar's nationalist monks and their supporters prayed, clapped and held speeches at a large rally in Yangon on October 4, 2015, in a show of the growing clout of hard-line Buddhists ahead of a Nov. 8 election.


The audience filled the sports stadium where the ceremony was held.


An internationally well-known monk, Ven. Dr Nyannisara, also known locally as Sitagu Sayadaw, spoke at the ceremony.


Youth in various ethnic costumes attend a ceremony in Yangon to welcome the passing of the laws, which are seen as discriminating against Muslims because they restrict interfaith marriage, polygamy and religious conversion.


Monks in burgundy robes from various parts of Myanmar at the ceremony.


Nuns in pink robes from various parts of Myanmar listen to the ceremony.


The Oct. 4 gathering was the climax of the Ma Ba Tha’s campaign to celebrate their successful push to implement four so-called Protection of Race and Religion Laws, seen as targeting women and the country's Muslim minority.


Members of the hard-line Buddhist group Ma-ba-tha speak at the ceremony. The firebrand monk Wirathu is second from the left.


Wirathu, who has given speeches across Myanmar about safeguarding Buddhism. Critics accuse him of being a government puppet because he tells people to support the ruling USDP and not to vote for the opposition NLD.


Venerable Dr. Ashin Dhammapiya, Founder of the California-based Metta Nanda Vihara, who had conducted disaster relief work in the aftermath of Nargis cyclone in 2008.


Men wearing white T-shirt with the Ma Ba Tha logo welcoming the celebration of the four laws.


Religious tensions are running high in Myanmar ahead of the parliamentary poll billed as the country's first free and fair election in 25 years, largely stoked by the Ma Ba Tha, an organization led by the hard-line monks who organized the rally.


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