living in the ‘Land of Smiles’

Chiang Mai, Thailand

(2 of 2) Burma – ‘Killing in the Name of Buddhism’


It was not so long ago that Burmese monks dressed in saffron robes organised brave protests and peaceful processions against the brutal military junta led by General Than Shwe. It was dubbed the Saffron Revolution.
In 2007, the monks’ Gandhian non-violent resistance was watched with awe, and commanded the respect of millions around the globe.

But these images etched in our collective memory are hard to square with an ugly new reality: Buddhist gangs setting Muslims communities ablaze; acts of collective arson and racist brutality, with some monks playing a vanguard role in instigating this anti-Muslim campaign.

How can the same religion known throughout the world for its commitment to peace, meditation, and reflection engage in hate-filled sermons against the Muslim minority? What has happened to the world religion that is above all other world religions, devoted to peace and non-violence? Has the year of the heroic monks of 2007 metamorphosed into some devilish distortion of Theravada Buddhism, forsaking tolerance and respect for all humanity, into a crassly xenophobic new creed that endorses killing Muslims in the name of Buddhism?


Most of the media coverage, Burmese and international alike, has narrowly focused on the anti-Muslim rantings spewed out by Buddhist monk U Wirathu, from a monastery near Mandalay. The leader of the ultra-nationalist movement known as “969” has claimed that Muslims commit virtually all the rapes reported in Burma, that their mosques and assets are being secretly financed by the Saudis, and that they will eventually take over the whole country.

Buddha preached calm and contemplation but Wirathu’s agenda calls for the opposite. “Now is not the time for calm,” declares the 46-year-old monk as he denigrates Muslims. “Now is the time to rise up, to make your blood boil.” (This quote was reported in the July 1st edition of TIME Magazine, which featured a cover shot of the angry monk headlined “The Face of Buddhist Terror.” The issue was banned inside Burma.)

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September 17, 2013 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , ,

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