Following the 7th National Muslim Ramadan iftar gathering, held on March 27 after a three-year Covid-19 hiatus, Prime Minister Hun Sen touted the Kingdom’s religious tolerance and expressed his admiration for the way Cambodia’s Buddhists, Christians and Muslims live in harmony.

Hun Sen made the remarks as he met Jusuf Kalla, president of the Central Asia-Pacific Democrats International (CAPDI), at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on March 28. Kalla, formerly Vice-President of Indonesia and chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Council, also led a delegation to the March 27 iftar event.

In a social media post following the meeting, the premier said Kalla had complimented him on bringing peace and stability – including religious harmony – to Cambodia.

Kalla expressed his appreciation for the Ramadan event, the post noted.

“I led over 100 Muslims to the iftar meal. What I saw yesterday [March 27] was a perfect example of the harmony and solidarity between different religions in the Kingdom,” it cited him as saying.

Hun Sen thanked Kalla for leading the Muslim delegation to the event, which was also attended by Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

“I briefed him on the Kingdom’s annual observance of Ramadan, as well as the excellent relations that people of differing faiths enjoy here in Cambodia,” he said.

He explained that the Cambodian government offered all people the freedom to practise their religion of choice, without fear of discrimination.

“Obliviously, the government has opened its heart to Cambodian Muslims, as Muslim students can dress in their traditional costumes at all levels of school, while prayer rooms are widely available in state institutions,” he said.

He added that as prime minister – and also as president of the Cambodian People’s Party – he had offered senior positions to many leaders of the Cambodian Muslim community.

“As one more example of its support, the government provides funding for teachers in Muslim communities in order to raise their living standards and allow them to unlock their human resource potential,” he said.

Hun Sen reiterated the government’s absolute commitment to promoting religious freedom.

“We unequivocally reject all forms of racial or religious discrimination,” he said.

Othsman Hassan, Senior Minister in charge of Special Missions, spoke at the event.

“The leadership of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), RABITA and many other nations have complimented Cambodia for setting an excellent example, in terms of religious harmony,” he said.

“All members of Cambodian society enjoy the right to conduct their worship in the manner of their choosing. They enjoy the right and the freedom to practise their religion without fear,” he added.