Speaking during a dinner with about 3,000 Christians in Phnom Penh, he noted that the CPP has focused on promoting religious freedom since the country was liberated from the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979.
“We are always making effort to ensure religious harmony and freedom of worship in the Kingdom,” Mr Hun Sen said. “This has prevented any friction between followers of different faiths.”
He noted that the three main religions in Cambodia are Buddhism, which is the state religion, Islam and Christianity.
“We have to offer the right of freedom to practice religion to followers of any faith in the Kingdom,” Mr Hun Sen added.
The Prime Minister noted that the right to practice religion was suppressed during countless wars in the 1970s, especially under the Pol Pot regime, but was fully restored after the country was liberated on January 7, 1979.
“Now we see how all religions are thriving throughout the Kingdom,” Mr Hun Sen said, referring to the countless number of Buddhist pagodas, as well as many mosques and churches that have been built.
He appealed to the public to stay united in maintaining peace, security and public order in the Kingdom.
“This point is very important because if we can’t protect peace, we will not be able to ensure religious freedom,” Mr Hun Sen noted. “Cambodia has experienced this during conflicts in the 1970s, especially during the Pol Pot regime, when the right to practice religion was eliminated,” he added.
The Prime Minister cited conflicts in countries such as Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen in the Middle East and Central African nations like Mali, when people were not able to practice their religions.
Seng Somony, Ministry of Cults and Religion spokesman, yesterday said that he supports the Prime Minister’s speech because the constitution clearly stipulates that people have the right to practice their faiths.
“The right to freedom of worship is protected by the state but people have to ensure that by practicing their faiths they do not affect security and public order,” he noted. “We can see that there are no religious clashes in the Kingdom and the leaders of all religions are supporting the government’s efforts to develop the country.”
Doung Savong, 63, who became a Christian in 1993 and works with a Catholic church in the capital, yesterday said there are no restrictions on how he practices his religion.
“We have the full right to practice the religion of our choice, just like I do as a Christian,” he noted.