Myanmar president backs restrictions on interfaith marriage
February 27, 2014 00:00
Yangon - Myanmar President Thein Sein expressed his support Thursday for four controversial laws on religion due to be considered by the country's parliament, including one that restricts interfaith marriages for Buddhists, a parliamentary official said.
In a letter to lawmakers, Thein Sein urged the lower house to pass the bills aimed at protecting Buddhism, the predominant religion among Myanmar's estimated 60 million population, a lower house spokesman said.
The interfaith marriage bill, if enacted, would mean a non-Buddhist man who wants to marry a Buddhist must convert to her faith, or face a 10-year jail sentence.
The text would not apply restrictions to marriages between Buddhist men and non-Buddhist women.
The draft laws could be presented to parliament for a vote as early as next month, sources said.
The legislation was first proposed by extremist monk Wirathu, who has been blamed for encouraging anti-Muslim hate campaigns that sparked several deadly sectarian clashes last year.
There were few details available on the content of the other three laws supported by Thein Sein in his letter.