YANGON: A court in Myanmar sentenced a Muslim teenager to seven years in jail on Wednesday for the attempted rape of a Buddhist woman that triggered recent religious unrest, said an official.
The resulting unrest left hundreds of people homeless after about 1,000 anti-Muslim rioters tore through villages on the outskirts Kanbalu, in the northwest region of Sagaing, on August 24, torching Muslim property.
The rampage started after a mob surrounded a police station to demand the suspect be handed over after he allegedly tried to rape a 25-year-old Buddhist woman.
When they police refused, the mob began to set fire to Muslim property and attack rescue vehicles with catapults.
About 35 houses and 12 shops were destroyed before calm was finally restored.
A township court sentenced the 18-year-old to seven years in jail, a local police officer said, requesting anonymity.
“He was sent straight to Mandalay prison.”
The officer added that the situation in the area area was “calm”.
Some 325 Muslims are still sheltering at a school after their homes were set ablaze during the unrest, the policeman added.
Myanmar, a predominantly Buddhist nation of 60 million people, has been struggling with sectarian violence since the country’s military rulers handed over power to a nominally civilian government in 2011
Attacks against Muslims, who make up at least four percent of the population, have exposed deep rifts in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, casting a shadow over widely praised political reforms since military rule ended.
Religious violence has left about 250 people dead and more than 140,000 homeless in Myanmar – mostly Muslims – since last year.