Pope's embrace of Rohingya sparks anger in Myanmar

Rohingya refugees heading to a relief aid distribution point at a camp near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Pope Francis had described how he had wept when meeting some refugees in Bangladesh, after he arrived back at the Vatican.
Rohingya refugees heading to a relief aid distribution point at a camp near Cox's Bazar in Bangladesh. Pope Francis had described how he had wept when meeting some refugees in Bangladesh, after he arrived back at the Vatican.PHOTO: REUTERS

YANGON • Pope Francis' embrace of the Rohingya during a trip to Bangladesh has sparked angry comment on social media in Myanmar, where just days earlier he chose not to publicly air the group's plight while visiting the country.

As he arrived back at the Vatican, the pontiff said he had taken up the Rohingya cause in private in Myanmar and described how he had wept after meeting a group of refugees.

"I wept: I tried to do it in a way that it couldn't be seen," he told reporters. "They wept too."

The comments sparked a flurry of online anger in Myanmar.

"He is like a lizard whose colour has changed because of weather," said Facebook user Aung Soe Lin of the Pope's strikingly different stances on the crisis.

Another Facebook user, called Soe Soe, said of the pontiff: "He should be a salesman or broker for using different words even though he is a religious leader."

Myanmar's Catholic church had advised Pope Francis not to stray into the incendiary issue of the status of the Rohingya in Myanmar, in case he worsened tensions and endangered Christians.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 04, 2017, with the headline 'Pope's embrace of Rohingya sparks anger in Myanmar'. Print Edition | Subscribe