A TOURIST is facing two years in a Burmese prison after he pulled a loudspeaker plug during a religious sermon near his hotel so he could get some sleep.
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Dutch citizen Klaas Haytema, 30, has apologised for the September 23 incident, in which he allegedly disconnected the amplifier during late-night Buddhist prayers at a religious hall in the tourist city of Mandalay in northern Myanmar.
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Soldiers were deployed to protect Haytema from an angry mob of people who gathered outside his hotel after he silenced the sermon.
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He has been detained while awaiting trial and was arrested and charged with insulting faith. I needed to sleep urgently. I couldn’t assessed outside the resort and stand the sound,” Haytema said at an initial court hearing, based on the Coconuts Asia news website.
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I saw that kids were playing. I believed they were playing it [the sermon] and disconnected the amplifier.
I didn’t see that it was a religious building. I’m truly sorry and I truly apologise.”
The guy who was reciting the sermon pressed charges against Haytema for the Buddhist faith that was dissing.
A local legal officer urged the alleged offence was serious enough to merit a criminal trial, The Telegraph reported. The offence carries a two-year jail term.
In a further setback to Haytema, immigration officials also have charged him with breaking the conditions of his visa.
Local immigration department head Thaung Dan told the Myanmar Times Haytema had violated two provisions in the visa: that visitors should follow the customs of Myanmar, together with the present laws of Myanmar.
They must follow the rules and regulations laid out in the visa,” he said If someone applies for a visa to enter Myanmar.
Dissing faith is taken seriously among Myanmar’s majority Buddhist population.
Where the offence was supposedly perpetrated by Haytema, is an especially culturally and religiously conservative area.
But the Dutch guy is far from the first tourist to run afoul of Myanmar’s strict rules protecting Buddhism.
New Zealand guy Philip Blackwood served two and a half years after he posted an image of Buddha in 2014 on Facebook.
The online flyer contained a “psychedelic” characterization of Buddha wearing earphones and was used to market low-priced drinks at a pub occasion. Blackwood was released on amnesty into his sentence.
In July, a Spanish tourist was apparently kicked out of Myanmar after monks in the historical town of Bagan took offence an open tat on his leg of Buddha.
The sway of religious hardliners seems to be intensifying in Myanmar in response to the state’s new civilian-directed authorities’s excitement for tourism and foreign investment.