Myanmar sentences Dutchman to prison for religious insult

A Dutch tourist who was detained by police in Myanmar after he shut down a broadcast of a Buddhist sermon was sentenced to three months in prison on Wednesday.

A court in Mandalay sentenced Klaas Haytema, 30, to prison for insulting religion and ordered him to pay an 85-dollar fine for breaching immigration laws, his lawyer, Hla Ko, said.

“The verdict is not bad. We could say it was fair,” Hla Ko said. Insulting religion carries a maximum two-year prison sentence in Myanmar.

Hla Ko said he would file an appeal arguing that Haytema should not have been found guilty. “He did not insult religion. He just disturbed it,” he said.

The Dutchman was arrested on September 23 after he reportedly stormed out of his hotel and disconnected the amplifier in a community hall where a Buddhist ceremony was being held, Mandalay police have said.

Angered local residents in Maha Aung Myay Township in Mandalay gathered outside his hotel and later complained to police over his actions.

Myanmar has experienced a rise in Buddhist nationalism in recent years and several foreigners deemed to have insulted Buddhism have faced legal consequences.

A New Zealand man was imprisoned for 10 months last year for using an image of Buddha to promote a Yangon bar, while a Spanish tourist was deported in June this year for a tattoo depicting Buddha.

Last update: Thu, 06/10/2016 - 15:38
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