JEDDAH - Appealing for UN intervention to stop attacks on Muslims in Burma, a world Muslim body has urged the Burmese government to allow in a ministerial delegation to discuss anti-Muslim violence in the Buddhist country.
The Organization of Islamic Cooperation calls on "Burmese authorities to strongly respond to the organization's appeal and allow a ministerial OIC delegation to visit" Burma, the OIC said in a statement cited by Agence France-Presse (AFP).
More than 43 people were killed and several mosques burnt in a week of sectarian violence in the central city of Meiktila earlier this month.
The anti-Muslim violence started by an argument between a Buddhist couple and gold shop owners and later spread to several towns in central Burma.
Monks were blamed for inciting hatred against Muslims by preaching a so-called 969 movement which represents a radical form of anti-Islamic nationalism that urges Buddhists to boycott Muslim-run shops and services.
The violence followed attacks on Bengali-ethnic Muslims, known as Rohingya, in a deadly bout of sectarian clashes in western Burma.
Such violence is a clear indication of the government's negative approach in dealing with ethnic and religious tensions that erupted last summer, OIC Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said in his speech at an emergency meeting of the OIC Contact Group on Sunday, April 14.
The OIC chief criticized the refusal of the Burmese government to allow an OIC delegation to visit Burma to check on reports of anti-Muslim violence.
Despite our attempts to establish communication with the authorities in Myanmar (Burma) by selecting a prominent figure from a neighboring country to visit Myanmar and open discussions with officials, the government was not responsive.
Formed in September, the Contact Group includes 11 of the OIC's 57 members -- Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Djibouti, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Indonesia, Malaysia, Sudan and Turkey.
In October, the OIC tried to open an office in Burma to help Muslims there, but the move was blocked by President Thein Sein following massive protests by Buddhist monks.
The world Muslim body has also appealed to the United Nations to intervene to stop attacks against Muslims in Burma.
"Security Council must protect rights and lives of Rohingya Muslims," Ihsanoglu told the meeting.
He told Saudi Gazette that the OIC will ask the UN Human Rights Council to send fact-finding mission to investigate all human rights violations in Burma.
Wakar Uddin, Director-General of Arakan Rohingya Union (ARU), called for Muslim support to stop attacks against Burmese Muslims.
This is no longer a Rohingya issue, Uddin said.
It's becoming an Islamic issue because the radical elements in Myanmar are trying to eliminate Islam from the country.
Burma's Muslims -- largely of Indian, Chinese and Bangladeshi descent -- account for an estimated four percent of the roughly 60 million population.
Muslims entered Burma en masse for the first time as indentured laborers from the Indian subcontinent during British colonial rule, which ended in 1948.But despite their long history, they have never fully been integrated into the country.