Religious Tension Mounts In Vietnam

September 30, 2009

Author: Nguyen Giang

Source: BBC News

Four years ago the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, a monk who popularised Buddhism in the West, was invited by the Vietnamese government to return home after 39 years in exile.

The move was seen as a sign that the authorities were becoming more tolerant of religion, a very sensitive issue in the communist state.

But four years on, there are signs that the authorities' new-found tolerance is waning.

Followers of Thich Nhat Hanh say they have been forced out of a monastery by police and angry crowds who ransacked the building over the weekend.

Reports say about 150 monks were evicted from the Bat Nha monastery and more than 200 nuns left on their own on Monday.

And Catholics in Vietnam have been embroiled in a two-year dispute with the government, holding mass demonstrations to demand that the authorities return land they say belongs to the Church.