Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Work on mosque road halted

Work on mosque road halted

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A blue fence, torn down by protesters on Saturday morning, yesterday remained strewn around a the construction site of a controversial road inside the Boeung Kak mosque compound. Pha Lina

Work on mosque road halted

Work has temporarily halted on a road traversing the Boeung Kak mosque after scores of angry worshippers on Friday tore down a temporary metal fence erected at the site.

But despite the highly visible protest against the project, Ministry of Labour secretary of state and Cham community leader Othsman Hassan yesterday urged residents to support the municipal government’s plan.

“About the protest, it is sad. They went to meet with City Hall many times,” Hassan said.

“We cannot let the protest of a small group interrupt the plans of the government. So, we will explain [the plan to them].”

Hassan, a supporter of the road – which partly lies on land owned by his foundation – came to loggerheads with his counterpart in the Ministry of Social Affairs, Muslim community leader Ahmad Yahya, earlier this year. Their conflict drove a wedge into the Muslim community and saw Yahya found guilty of defaming Hassan when he claimed Hassan proposed the road’s construction due to hidden business interests.

Yahya yesterday said the demonstration by protesters, who collapsed the blue corrugated metal fence after Friday prayers, reflected 90 percent of the Muslim community’s views.

“This is the power of the people,” he said. “[The municipal authorities] cheated us – they said they only come to measure the land, but actually they came to build it at the same time.”

He said there would be “no problem” if the road was built alongside the mosque compound’s perimeter fence – a suggestion quashed by municipal authorities last week.

One protester, Sana Ron, said he took action because the municipality began construction without informing the faithful.

“The landscape of our mosque is no longer beautiful, it will be a crowded space for parking cars and motorbikes and there will traffic jams around the mosque,” he said.

Hassan yesterday maintained the road was 60 metres from the staircase of the mosque, while municipal maps show it is 50 metres from the closest corner.

“Some mosques in Phnom Penh are just 10 metres, 20 metres, or 40 metres away from the street. So, [this issue] is not about interference [of worship] due to traffic,” he said. “It is not a loss; it is a benefit for all … If we have the road, firstly it would ease the traffic, and secondly it would let tens of thousands of people know the mosque.”

City Hall spokesman Met Measpheakdey said the rift in the Muslim community should be resolved before construction began again.

“We don’t want their internal conflict to interrupt our work. So, we will let them talk and find an internal solution first,” he said. “If [the protesters] are wrong, we don’t just immediately crack down on them. We can instruct, and educate them first, if possible. If their mistake is not so big that we can’t excuse it, we can compromise.”

ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MECH DARA

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,