YANGON – Muslims in Burma keep a low profile for fear of intimidation and systematic state terrorism, but Win Lae Phyu Sin, a blogger on beauty care, has gone the other way.
“I don’t regret my decision to wear the hijab. Our God opens many ways for me. Hijab is like a key for me. I can use it to go where I want to go and do what I want,” the 19-year-old cosmetician said during a launch of beauty products in Yangon, Myanmar’s largest city, Euro News reported on August 15.
The Muslim teenager was the center of the event with her unique multi-colored makeup offset by a long-sleeved green-and-white gown and matching hijab.
For some of Sin’s students, her tutorials aren’t merely about applying eyeshadow and highlighter, but also about building confidence and pride in an identity constantly questioned by Buddhist fellow citizens.
Currently, she has 6,000 followers on Facebook and 600 students have attended more than 150 classes on the use of cosmetics run in a makeshift studio.
The Muslim blogger’s high profile has drawn discrimination when a Buddhist woman who enrolled in her class backed out on discovering Sin was Muslim.
“When people attack or criticize, I choose to ignore them. I have a lot of work to do,” the determined Muslim explained.
In fact, Sin’s growing fame, fed by dozens of online makeup tutorials and events at shopping malls, has prompted trips to Burma’s second largest city, Mandalay.
Muslims who represent about 5% of the Southeast Asian nation of around 50 million are prevented from building new mosques since decades and struggle to rent apartments from Buddhists and landlords.
However, according to the 2017 report of Burma Human Rights Network, many Muslims of other ethnicities are also prevented from issuing national identity documents and are denied access to some places.