Myanmar lawmakers to debate law curbing religious conversions

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Yangon: Myanmar began a parliamentary session that will see lawmakers debate the first of four proposed laws that aim to protect the country’s majority Buddhist identity by regulating religious conversions and interfaith marriages.

The proposals come amidst rising sectarian tension in Myanmar, which has exploded in violent clashes between Buddhists and Muslims, killing at least 237 people and displacing more than 140,000 since June 2012.

The vast majority of victims were Muslims who make up only about 5 percent of Myanmar’s population of 60 million.

The government said it would accept comments on the draft until June 20. It has yet to publish drafts of the other three bills, dealing with population control measures, a ban on polygamy and curbs on interfaith marriage.