Anti-Muslim protests in PyeongChang get Winter Olympics prayer room scrapped

  • By and large, PyeongChang has gone out of its way to welcome the world for the 2018 Winter Olympics. But not everyone in the South Korean host city is feeling the Olympic spirit.
  • The Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has announced that it will no longer go forward with plans to set up a mobile multi-faith prayer room for spectators in Gangneung, where all of the Games’ indoor events are taking place, following “strong opposition” from anti-Muslim protestors.
  • The KTO’s Kim Yeong-ju told Korea Exposé’s Ho Kyeong Jang that opposition to the prayer rooms was so strong that local officials “could no longer do their jobs.”
  • Much of the hostility has flowed from the PyeongChang Olympics Gangwon Citizens’ Islam Countermeasure Association, a relatively new group that pushed a petition against the prayer room via Google. The petition — which stoked fear about radical Islam in the South Korean province of Gangwon — has collected more than 56,000 digital signatures.
  • Islamophobia is nothing new in South Korea, where Muslims comprise just 0.2 percent of an overall population of 51 million. The Citizens’ Association for a Proper Country, a civic group led by Jeong Hyeong-man, has advocated against halal-friendly establishments and warned against “the increase of Muslim terrorist bases in Korea.”

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