Ma Ba Tha monk Wirathu might have plans to deliver a sermon in South Dagon tonight, but that doesn’t mean he’ll receive a warm welcome.
According to Kumudra, residents of South Dagon’s 53rd Quarter, where the sermon will be held, have signed a letter protesting the event.
“[The sermon] will disturb the community peace,” Myat Kyaw, a 54-year-old resident of the neighborhood, told Kumudra.
Local residents began collecting signatures on Tuesday. By the time the petition was submitted to the local ward and township offices yesterday, it had received around 300 signatures. The document has also been submitted to Religious Affairs and Culture Minister Thura U Aung Ko and to the State Sangha Maha Nayaka (Ma Ha Na) Committee.
Another resident explained: “His actions are not appropriate for a Buddhist. He should respectfully accept the yearlong ban.”
In an attempt to crack down on Wirathu’s hate speech, Ma Ha Na issued a decree earlier this month banning Wirathu from delivering sermons for one year starting from March 10. In response, Wirathu held a ‘silent protest’ a few days later during which he sat with tape over his mouth while an audience of hundreds listened to a recording of a previous sermon of his. Ma Ba Tha held a Facebook live broadcast of the sermon.
Although authorities initially considered pursuing legal action against the protest, Wirathu asserted that he hadn’t broken any rules. He explained to The Irrawaddy at the time: “The notice banned me from delivering sermons, sitting on the plinth, and greeting my followers and the audience. I didn’t do that, and instead, just sat there silently. I’ve followed every instruction of the senior sayadaws and broke no laws.”