Myanmar monks, others support ban on TIME magazine July 1 issue

More than 1,000 people, including about 100 Buddhist monks, rallied in front of Yangon's city hall Sunday to support a decision by the Myanmar government to ban sale or distribution of the July 1 edition of TIME magazine.

The magazine, which ran a cover photo of radical Buddhist monk Wirathu as the "Face of Buddhist Terror," was banned last week because the article could be "misunderstood," the State of Emergency Management Central Committee said.

Wirathu has been a main protagonist in Buddhist attacks on Muslims in Rakhine State and elsewhere over the past year.

Sunday, protesters held Buddhist flags and placards with words saying they support President Thein Sein, denounce the article and call for legal action against the magazine and its editorial team.

Some placards read, "We support monk Wirathu who is just trying to protect our religion," "We support the president who announced objection to TIME magazine" and "Monk Wirathu is just a peaceful preacher."

Demonstrators included supporters of the recently popular 969 Buddhist nationalist movement.

Government officials said earlier the ban on TIME was to prevent further religious tension that could jeopardize a peace process between Buddhists and Muslims promoted by the government.

The communal attacks, mostly by Buddhists on Muslims, started a year ago in western Rakhine State after a Buddhist girl was allegedly raped and killed by several Muslims.

Attacks have since spread to central towns and cities in the Mandalay region and further east to Shan State.

More than 200 people, most of them Muslim, have been killed and more than 5,000 houses and religious buildings destroyed during clashes, the United Nations has reported.