Officials said Saturday that the new measure would be applied to two Rakhine townships that border Bangladesh and that have the highest Muslim populations in the state.

The unusual order makes Myanmar perhaps the only country in the world to impose such a restriction on a religious group, and it is likely to fuel further criticism that Muslims are being discriminated against in the Buddhist-majority country.

In a recent meeting with President Thein Sein, President Obama mixed praise for the country’s rapid pace toward democracy with a warning that violence against Muslims “needs to stop.”

It was unclear how the local government would enforce the rule, and the announcement could be as much about playing to the country’s Buddhist majority as about actual policy. It was also unclear what effect the new limits would have; there have already been restrictions on Rohingyas marrying, which analysts said were meant to decrease the birthrate.