YANGON, Myanmar (AP) - A directive by Myanmar's senior Buddhist leaders prohibiting the clergy from organizing their own associations has set up a collision with activist monks, including the popular head of a nationalistic movement who preaches against Muslims.Wirathu, whose fiery sermons castigate Muslims, said Wednesday the rules were first drawn up under undemocratic military rule and deny monks their rights.
The director of the government's religious affairs department, Tun Nyunt, said the State Sangha Nayaka Organization, the central body of Buddhist monks, issued its directive on August 24. It reiterates a ban that was established in 1990, when young monks were joining together to oppose the then-military regime. An elected government took office in 2011. New freedoms have unleashed conflicts between the Buddhist and Muslim communities and the rise of ultra-nationalistic groups.