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Dutch Tourist Faces Jail Imprisonment For Pulling Plug on Prayer Sermon in Myanmar

Travelers Today       By    Joana Dyan Ordonez

Updated: Oct 06, 2016 09:01 PM EDT

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Having an out-of-the-country tour is one of the many ways to relax and move away from stress.

But this happened otherwise to Klaas Haytema, a 30-year old Dutch tourist, who were charged with insulting religion in Myanmar for allegedly unplugging an amplifier blasting a late-night Buddhist sermon near his hotel.

Haytema was arrested in the city of Mandalay and has been detained while awaiting trial, a township police officer said.

On the late evening of 23 September, he allegedly disrupted a religious observance in a hall in the popular tourist city of Mandalay in northern Burma (Myanmar).

I wanted to sleep desperately.  I couldn't stand the noise and checked outside the hotel," Haytema said at an initial court hearing, according to the Coconuts Asia website.

"I saw that children were playing. I thought that they were playing it [sermon] and disconnected the amplifier. I did not notice that it was a religious building."

But his remorse has not appeased the local authorities.

The man who was reciting the sermon pressed charges against Haytema for insulting the Buddhist religion, and immigration officials have charged him with violating the terms of his visa.

Dutch diplomats declined to comment on the case.

Mandalay, a major tourist attraction in central Myanmar, is the country's cultural capital and the former seat of Burmese kings. Accordingly, it is culturally and religiously conservative.

In Myanmar, it is common for Buddhist groups to broadcast sermons by loudspeaker at very high volumes.

Likewise, the offence of insulting religion is a sensitive issue among the majority Buddhist population and carries a two-year jail sentence.

According to the recent report by Telegraph, on October 6,  Klaas Haytema was sentenced to three months imprisonment for interfering with a religious observance.

In view of the said incident a note to tourists has been advised by Fox News.  Accordingly, respecting the local culture (and religion) when visiting a foreign country isn't just the polite thing to do, sometimes it's the law. 

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

Tags
Myanmar, burma, Mandalay, Religious Observance, dutch
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