RELIGION

Malaysia defends rally against 'ethnic cleansing' in Myanmar

Malaysia's government has defended plans for a protest to condemn what it called ethnic cleansing of Myanmar's Muslim Rohingya minority, saying it has an obligation to ensure that its neighbor takes steps to prevent the crisis from deteriorating.

Prime Minister Najib Razak is expected to attend the rally on Sunday but Myanmar has warned Muslim-majority Malaysia not to interfere in its internal affairs.

Malaysia's Foreign Ministry says the high number of Rohingya refugees in Malaysia and neighboring countries "makes this matter no longer an internal matter but an international matter." It says the fact that "only particular ethnicity is being drive out is by definition ethnic cleansing."

It said in a strongly worded statement Saturday that the practice must stop immediately to bring back security and stability to the region.