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Shrine free: Vietnamese Bokor visits validated

The government yesterday said that Vietnamese nationals using Bokor Mountain, close to the border in Kampot, for religious activities do not pose any threat.

An investigation was launched in November by Culture and Fine Arts Minister Phoeung Sakuna after concerns were raised in the media about the number of Vietnamese visiting the mountain – a tourist area that includes a huge casino – to worship. In response to the reports, provincial authorities created a commission to look for shrines or other buildings being constructed there without permission.

Heng Sophady, deputy director of the ministry’s Heritage Department, said yesterday that the investigation found that while Vietnamese nationals were using the mountain for worship, they had not built any religious shrines.

“When they came . . . they just meditated quietly, so there are no bad impacts on our culture,” he said. “If we look at it from the constitutional perspective, it is stated that we guarantee the religious freedom of other races.”

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