Natmattu: : It is reported that the principal of a government school from Namtu, Northern Shan state forced Muslim students to pray Buddhist prayer and a student was expelled out of the school on June 19thwhen she refused to pray.
In Basic Educational Primary School (3) situated in Bogyoke road, Namtu, Muslim students were forced to pray along with their Buddhist friends during the Buddhist prayer which is a routine procedure in government schools. A Muslim student was reprimanded by the principal when she found out she did not pray. It is reported that the principal said if any student did not want to pray she will issue a school dismissal letter for them.
Next day, when the student went to the school she was told that she was expelled out of the school. The student went back home and informed the situation to her mother. Her mother asked help from Muslim elders and they went to the school and met with the principal in the same day.
The principal explained to them that the order to pray Buddhist prayer is issued from Ministry of Education and the student was expelled because she failed to obey this order. So, Muslim elders who accompanied the mother demanded to issue school dismissal letters to all Muslim students as they will not be able to follow the order to pray Buddhist prayer. Upon hearing this demand, the principal called to Myo Oo monastery and requested monks to come to the school. Two monks from Myo Oo monastery came to the school. After a while, the mob of people on 30 motorcycles armed with sticks and knifes arrived to the school.
After inquiring the situation, the monk returned to his monastery commenting that it is the religious issue and everyone has freedom of worship. However, the principal insisted that it is the order from the Ministry and she must execute it. At that time, the mob carrying sticks and knifes are waiting outside the school and the authorities did not take any action. At about 11:30 am, the crowd dispersed and the situation became calm.
At about 3 pm, Township education officer called the emergency meeting. According to the report, he said repeatedly in the meeting, "There are just a handful of Kalar (Muslims) in this area. We, Burmese are majority. If we did something to them, they will be in great trouble". From that day on, the security forces have tightened the security.
In Namtu, there are about 1000 households and population of about 20000 in which only 186 households and about 400 people are Muslims. There are 4 mosques in Namtu.
According to reports, such kind of religious discrimination is widely spread in schools throughout the country including Yangon, Mandalay and Mawlamyaing. In the past, although Buddhist prayer at the beginning of classes in schools is mandatory for Buddhist kids, non Buddhist kids were exempted from reciting Buddhist prayer. It can be considered that such religious discrimination in schools being the source of stress for children will become a barrier for the development of the country.