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Kampong Chhnang Muslims protest to save graves

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More than 30 Cambodian-Muslim families protested the construction of a road running through Kampong Chhnang province’s Chhong Kos village on Wednesday after they noticed a portion of an ancestral graveyard alongside the road was damaged. Fresh News

Kampong Chhnang Muslims protest to save graves

More than 30 Cambodian-Muslim families protested the construction of a road running through Kampong Chhnang province’s Chhong Kos village on Wednesday after they noticed a portion of an ancestral graveyard alongside the road was damaged.

The Cambodian-Muslim community also noticed the road was being built at a higher elevation, another reason they protested the construction, said Mat Sary, an imam (religious leader) in the community located in Kampong Chhnang town’s Khsam commune.

Sary serves as a coordinator between the community, the authorities and the road construction company. He told The Post on Wednesday that the road construction company intends to fill the road with soil to allow people to travel and they also plan to fill the graveyard.

But the villagers said they are afraid the company won’t fill in the land at their ancestor’s grave area after they finish the road construction.

“I’ve talked to the company and they’ve agreed to fill in the land for them first before they continue to fill land for road construction,” he said.

Authorities also agreed to the request of Cambodian-Muslims to protect the graveyard and fill it to be a half metre higher than the road.

Rem El, a representative of the Cambodian-Muslim community, said the grave area had been in use since 1958.

El said there may have been thousands of ancestral burials there.

Fresh News quoted him on Wednesday as saying that on Tuesday evening, the road construction team damaged and almost destroyed graves as they performed their work. Identification plaques were removed.

Provincial governor Chhour Chandoeun said the construction started a long time ago and the village mosque’s chief, residents and himself had agreed on the plan.

The deputy village chief of Chhong Kos village, San Kriya said: “The grave land will be filled for gardening and [will be] fenced. We will put up a sign designating it as a place of worship for Cambodian Muslims,” Kriya said.

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