A powerful group of Buddhist monks have proposed Hijab bans on Muslim schoolgirls in Burma.
The country has a long history of persecution of Muslims, and while tensions between Muslims and Buddhists have been rife for decades, they have aggravated further recently.
The head scarf ban proposition is the latest indication of the growing tensions.
Ma Ba Tha, the organisation for the Protection of Race and Religion headed by a panel of monks, said that head scarves were “not in line with school discipline”. The group asked its members to lobby the government to increase restriction on the country’s already-harassed Muslims.
“We will demand seriously for the government to ban Muslim students wearing the burqa in government schools and to ban the killing of innocent animals on their Eid holiday,” it said, referring to Muslim cultural practices that Buddhist nationalists believe go against the culture of Buddhist-majority Burma.
The group with the intention of explaining their move said that they were showing people the right track and trying to ensure that in the upcoming elections people will vote for the right party so their race and religion does not disappear.
Ma Ba Tha monk U Pamaukkha said: “When they [Muslims] live in Myanmar, they need to obey the law and regulations of the country. We are not targeting or attacking their religion.”
The group was formed in 2013 when inter-communal mistrust and violence was increasing the country.
Inter-communal violence in Burma’s Rakhine State has displaced 140,000 people identified as Rohingya, who have fled to the sea in to escape the tyrannical conditions, which gave birth to a regional human smuggling crisis.
Ma Ba Tha has proven quite successful in influencing the government. President Thein Sein’s administration drafted laws restricting religious conversion, inter-faith marriage, polygamy and restricting population growth.
David Mathieson, a senior researcher on Burma for Human Rights Watch, said: “The Ma Ba Tha have become an unaccountable and arrogant political force based on extremist religious and social views, like a fifth column using Buddhism to serve shady political and economic interests.”
This article originally appeared on The Guardian