Monk stokes religious tension in Myanmar

An influential Myanmar monk looks set to continue his controversial plan of building Buddhist temples on or close to the grounds of churches, says Radio Free Asia.

On 6 June, Myaing Kyee Ngu and his supporters arrived near St Mark's church in Hlaingbwe – one of the largest townships in Karen State, which is known to have a sizeable Christian population – with eight truckloads of bricks.

Ngu's intentions remain unclear, though he has built a further 30 monasteries in the village, and, in April, he built a pagoda, erected a religious statue and planted a Buddhist flagin the grounds of another church in Hlaingbwe. Letters from Buddhist authorities urging him to stop building have been ignored.

Speaking in the UK parliament in May, Cardinal Charles Maung Bo, Myanmar's first Catholic Cardinal, highlighted the oppression of Christians by Buddhist extremists. He said protecting religious freedoms was among the "biggest challenges" facing his country today.