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Statues ‘must move’

Large religious icons are seen at a makeshift Vietnamese temple in Siem Reap town. Two Vietnamese shrines in Siem Reap town have been ordered to move by today.
Large religious icons are seen at a makeshift Vietnamese temple in Siem Reap town. Two Vietnamese shrines in Siem Reap town have been ordered to move by today. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Statues ‘must move’

Two Vietnamese religious sites in Siem Reap town have been ordered to move after officials declared that the congregations required permission to hold ceremonies there.

The two sites in Chung Khnies district – one a floating temple – will be forced to shut down or move in the coming days, officials said yesterday.

Van Bunna, head of the district’s Department of Cults and Religion, said the Vietnamese worshippers had been erecting statues since last year, but then they were “only small”.

“Now they have expanded, getting bigger and bigger on the land and the water, so Vietnamese can gather and pray. We ordered them to move out,” he said.

Following a meeting with the leaders of the community over the weekend, Bunna said another site visit had been planned for Monday. If the two temples had not been moved by then, the authorities would force the people to move, he added.

“Everyone is free to worship any religion, but they must follow the law and get permission first. They build prayer places so big, huge, so we don’t allow them. We’re afraid of religious disputes.”

Em Man, Chung Khnies district chief, said the presence of the Vietnamese worshipers was causing local Khmers to feel unsettled.

“The prayer groups and statues look so big. It doesn’t look like we’re in Cambodia. There are always Vietnamese coming to pray,” he said.

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