PHNOM PENH: The Cambodian Muslim community has called for non-discrimination against Khmer Muslim people as Covid-19 spreads in the country.
Cambodian Muslims Development Foundation president Othsman Hassan said he had received reports of discrimination against Khmer Muslims following a surge of cases within the community.
“While I understand the pandemic has caused fear and anxiety among the people, discrimination and panic won’t make the situation better.”
Othsman, who was also the Cambodian senior minister in charge of special missions, said that because of the prevailing fear, Khmers had taken precautionary measures to protect themselves from the virus.
“However, when some Khmer Muslims tested positive for the virus, they (Khmers) became more concerned about protecting themselves from the Khmer Muslim community.”
The Khmer Times also quoted Othsman calling for unity amid the pandemic fears.
“Fortunately, the situation has alleviated as fewer cases are reported now,” he noted.
On Feb 27, 79 Cambodian Muslims participated in a religious gathering in Malaysia, which led to cluster transmissions of the coronavirus in Malaysia and sparked fears of an outbreak among Cambodians.
Imam Math Sles, 84, said there had been minor instances of discrimination against the Muslim community since those who returned from Malaysia started testing positive for Covid-19.
“Some people would wear face masks as soon as they saw us walking towards them.
“In some instances, they refused to sell some products to us out of fear of being infected,” he said.
Council of Ministers spokesman Ek Tha called on the public not to allow the coronavirus to divide Cambodians.
“Please put aside our differences. By doing so, we can overcome this hard time together. So be optimistic and keep our fingers crossed and continue to stand strong at all fronts so as to bring about the wellbeing of our people and the nation as a whole.”