Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Opponents of new road gather at B Kak mosque

Opponents of new road gather at B Kak mosque

Cham Muslims assembled outside Boeung Kak’s Al-Serkal Mosque last week to protest against City Hall’s decision to build a road that will run just 50 metres from where the mosque sits. Photo supplied
Cham Muslims assembled outside Boeung Kak’s Al-Serkal Mosque last week to protest against City Hall’s decision to build a road that will run just 50 metres from where the mosque sits. Photo supplied

Opponents of new road gather at B Kak mosque

Hundreds of Cham Muslims protesting a divisive road to be built on the land of a Boeung Kak mosque this weekend appealed to higher powers for intervention: Allah, and Prime Minister Hun Sen.

On Friday, believers spilled onto the stairs of the Al-Serkal Mosque and prayed, but prayer soon turned to peaceful protest. While riot police watched on, there were no outbreaks of violence. Vocal road opponent Ahmad Yahya said the vast display undercut the outcome of a meeting held at the mosque in the days prior, where many of the Kingdom’s imams voted in favour of building the road, which will sit 50 metres from the mosque.

“We are Muslim, so we have to pray to God and ask God to not allow these people to build this road,” Yahya, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Social Affairs, said.

He repeated his assertion that last week’s vote by imams was a media stunt and that the majority of Cham Muslims opposed the road, a claim proponent Othsman Hassan, a Labour Ministry secretary of state, denied.

Hassan urged that more weight be given to the imams from across Cambodia and the seal of approval from Grand Mufti Sos Kamry, rather than the protesters. “Those who support [me] are the representatives of their villages and communes and districts, but Ahmad Yahya’s supporters are only from Chraing Chamreh I and II [communes in Phnom Penh] – we need to make a clear division,” Hassan said.

He added both opponents and supporters of the road go to pray on Fridays and said the weekend’s demonstration was merely opponents taking advantage of a large congregation for political ends.

According to Phnom Penh Deputy Governor Khuong Sreng, Governor Pa Socheatvong was planning to meet with Yahya later today, but Yahya yesterday declared he would not “waste my time” and would send a representative instead.

He also hinted that certain road proponents had proved themselves to be “enemies of Islam”.

Sreng said City Hall was unlikely to change its position but instead hoped to sway opponents to see the benefits a road could bring.

“We are not going to continue building the road if the disagreement and conflict keeps going on like this; we need to negotiate,” he said. He added that opponents were simply misinformed and would agree after further explanation from the authorities.

Prime Minister Hun Sen has in the past nixed major development projects to appease angered residents.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42