Extremism Rises Among Myanmar Buddhists

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After a ritual prayer atoning for past sins, Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist monk with a rock-star following in Myanmar, sat before an overflowing crowd of thousands of devotees and launched into a rant against what he called “the enemy” — the country’s Muslim minority.


“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu said, referring to Muslims.

“I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers,” Ashin Wirathu told a reporter after his two-hour sermon. “I am proud to be called a radical Buddhist.”

The world has grown accustomed to a gentle image of Buddhism defined by the self-effacing words of the Dalai Lama, the global popularity of Buddhist-inspired meditation and postcard-perfect scenes from Southeast Asia and beyond of crimson-robed, barefoot monks receiving alms from villagers at dawn.

But over the past year, images of rampaging Burmese Buddhists carrying swords and the vituperative sermons of monks like Ashin Wirathu have underlined the rise of extreme Buddhism in Myanmar — and revealed a darker side of the country’s greater freedoms after decades of military rule. Buddhist lynch mobs have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes.

Written By: Thomas Fuller
continue to source article at nytimes.com

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  1. this is an important factor to consider when ranking religions in order of evilness. yes the abrahamics have plenty more hateful source material to work from but ultimately all religions come down to how the texts are interpreted and as soon as you have a “them and us” situation, atrocities will be committed in the name of “us”

  2. All Religions are bad for humanity. Buddhist are no better then any other religion. I see only science could give us a cure from religion. This is what all religions do. Once any religion is in majority people from that religions start killing minorities. Science should invent a parasite that could destroy religion from human brain.

  3. There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

    Someone wrote the following:
    “In every country where muslims are in the minority, they are obsessed with minority rights. In every country in the world where muslims are in the majority, there are NO minority rights.”

    True.

    • In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

      There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

      You boycott businesses run by Muslims, is that correct?

      If you go into a shop and there’s someone serving who looks a bit Muslimy, do you ask if they’re the owner or just an employee to determine whether the store will receive your custom?

      What if they say they’re the owner and disclose they are indeed Muslim, but you’re super-thirsty and the chiller cabinet if full of ice-cold cans of your favorite beverage…

      My goodness, you must have to plan your day out very carefully to ensure that scenarios like this one never happen.

      Being bigoted in the 21st century has to be chock-full of obstacles like that. I’m sure there’s a book in there somewhere.

      Someone wrote the following:
      “In every country where muslims are in the minority, they are obsessed with minority rights. In every country in the world where muslims are in the majority, there are NO minority rights.”

      True.

      No. Bullsh#t. This someone was an idiot.

      • In reply to #7 by Katy Cordeth:

        In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

        There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

        You boycott businesses run by Muslims, is that correct?

        If you go into a shop and there’s someone serving who looks a bit Muslimy, do you ask if they’re the owner or just…

        This is of course the same Fouad Boussetta who said:

        ‘Well, I am totally against his violent solutions, of course, but he is not so deluded about the problems.

        In fact, the Norwegian psycho is pretty much right on target about the nature of Islam, the West’s self-defeating political correctness, and the looming problems ahead.’

        http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/642341-dear-angry-lunatic-a-response-to-chris-hedges#page2

        • In reply to #17 by The Grapes of Roth:

          In reply to #7 by Katy Cordeth:

          In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

          There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

          You boycott businesses run by Muslims, is that correct?

          If you go into a shop and there’s someone serving who looks a bit Muslimy, do you ask if they’re the owner or just…

          This is of course the same Fouad Boussetta who said:

          ‘Well, I am totally against his violent solutions, of course, but he is not so deluded about the problems.

          ‘In fact, the Norwegian psycho is pretty much right on target about the nature of Islam, the West’s self-defeating political correctness, and the looming problems ahead.’

          http://old.richarddawkins.net/articles/642341-dear-angry-lunatic-a-response-to-chris-hedges#page2

          I’ve become so familiar with the ethnic cleansing in Myanmar being given tacit approval by some members of this site that it doesn’t even surprise me anymore.

          I’m still appalled whenever I see these sort of sentiments expressed…

          Well, they probably had it coming. It would only have been a matter of time before they got their hands on an airliner, and you know what Mickey Muslim likes to do with those things.

          or

          I don’t approve of these attacks on Muslims but I understand them.

          or

          They should have never gone there in the first place; the poor Buddhists are only trying to protect their culture. Human life is fleeting, but some of those lovely statues have been around for hundreds of years.

          …and I wonder how those who give voice to such views are able to look themselves in a mirror. But the shock value has gone.


          P.S. I did like numbeliever’s comment #37 on that thread…

          No I advise people not to read anything that deluded psychopath has written or promoted. By doing that you are giving him credibility. No, of course you are not going to agree with him. But on some level you acknowledge that the things he has written are worth reading. They are not. No more than the ramblings of a lunatic is worth reading. Unless you are a psychiatrist or something trying to interpret how the irrational mind works.

          …even though I initially thought he was talking about Sam Harris and not the estimable Mr Breivik, whose manifesto our friend finds so compelling.

          Can you imagine: Sam Harris a deluded psychopath!!

          • In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #17 by The Grapes of Roth:

            In reply to #7 by Katy Cordeth:

            In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

            There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

            You boycott businesses run by Muslims, is that correct?

            If you go into a shop and there’s someone…

            I like the moderator’s message. Rationalising ethnic cleansing is fine, please continue with the ‘thoughtful discussion’, but pointing out Breivik sympathisers on this site is just too much for the mods. The clear thinking oasis gets a little brighter every day.

      • In reply to #7 by Katy Cordeth:

        No. Bullsh#t. This someone was an idiot.

        After admonishing me for judging other people before “learning their name and talking to them”, quite amusing to see you here doing the same thing here.

        http://www.richarddawkins.net/news_articles/2013/6/16/texas-gov-rick-perry-signs-merry-christmas-bill-into-law#comment-box-28

        Being inconsistent in the 21st century has to be chock-full of obstacles like that.

    • In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

      In every country in the world where muslims are in the majority, there are NO minority rights.”

      That’s mostly true, and personally, it makes me wary.

      Interesting thought. If you have a look at this list

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_by_country

      and sort the third column in the table you can get a list of all countries in order of the percentage of Muslims. The Muslim majority countries include a lot of countries that are pretty short of democratic freedoms but also some large ones that are reasonable like Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey. Notice I’m not saying wonderful but reasonable as the claim is “NO minority rights”.

      Michael

      • In reply to #8 by mmurray:

        In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

        The Muslim majority countries include a lot of countries that are pretty short of democratic freedoms but also some large ones that are reasonable like Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey.

        The only one in that list that is “reasonable” (and that I would be even remotely comfortable living in as a non-Muslim) is Turkey, and that’s only because of Ataturk who was a very forward-thinking and secular guy who accomplished a lot. Even in Turkey now intolerant Islam is rising, slowly but surely.

    • “Buddhist neo-Nazi” almost sounds sort of Zen. Genocide is depressing, but not nearly as surprising as people seem to think.

      In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

      There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

      No, it really isn’t.

      Someone wrote the following: “In every country where muslims are in the minority, they are obsessed with minority rights. In every country in the world where muslims are in the majority, there are NO minority rights.”

      True enough.

      In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

      P.S. I did like numbeliever’s comment #37 on that thread…

      Actually, I think that Mein Kampf should be required reading. The totalitarian impulse is very strong and we all need to remain constantly vigilant against it. Wonder what Hitch would have said about all this, here’s a piece he wrote back in 2007.

      I’d also like to hear what Sam Harris has to say about it, his analysis of the underlying ideological motivation here would be interesting.

  4. “You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu said, referring to Muslims.

    Yes. You must watch your ass so it doesn’t get bitten. Not everyone is into reciprocity. Islam does not recognize reciprocity: it is the suprematist religion par excellence.

    “I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers,” Ashin Wirathu told a reporter after his two-hour sermon. “I am proud to be called a radical Buddhist.

    I have a Tunisian background, so I know: the more Muslim you are, the more of a troublemaker.

    The world has grown accustomed to a gentle image of Buddhism defined by the self-effacing words of the Dalai Lama

    I saw the documentary “What’s left of us” about Tibet, and the Dalai Lama’s pacifism is pathetic: Tibetan culture is being wiped out. Buddhism all but disappeared from India, from where it originates, when the Muslim conquerors massacred monks and burned monasteries. One must be kind with the kind, but harsh with the harsh.

    By the way, I consider myself pretty much a Buddhist, à la Stephen Batchelor though.

    What began last year on the fringes of Burmese society has grown into a nationwide movement whose agenda now includes boycotts of Muslim-made goods.

    I boycott Muslim goods and I feel good about it. I shop a lot in Chinatown. The Chinese cause no trouble (and don’t hate pets).

    “If we are weak,” he said, “our land will become Muslim.”

    Historically, Islam replaced the local culture almost invariably, everytime, everywhere it went.

    Phra Paisal Visalo, a Buddhist scholar and prominent monk in neighboring Thailand, says the notion of “us and them” promoted by Myanmar’s radical monks is anathema to Buddhism.

    Yes, but Islam is the world champion of “us and them”. Buddhism has no notion of an “infidel”.

    The theme song to Ashin Wirathu’s movement speaks of people who “live in our land, drink our water, and are ungrateful to us.”

    That’s true. Muslims too often despise non-Muslims. They just feel no loyalty to their country of adoption.

    Pamphlets handed out at his sermon demonizing Muslims said that “Myanmar is currently facing a most dangerous and fearful poison that is severe enough to eradicate all civilization.”

    There is some truth to this. It’s not just crazy conspiracy theory rant. The Burmese are not all crazy. They’re in for some trouble.

    “The main thing is that our religion and our nationality don’t disappear,” said Ashin Zadila, a senior monk at the Myazedi Nanoo monastery outside the city.

    Good luck. I hope you won’t have your beautiful Buddhas destroyed any day soon.

  5. But atheists mustn’t say ALL religions are bad! Ashin Wirathu sounds like a nasty piece of work. They all seem to be obsessed with guilt and sin. Not to mention fear. Never any fun. All these gods seem to be a miserable bunch of gits!

  6. In reply to #8 by mmurray:

    The Muslim majority countries include a lot of countries that are pretty short of democratic freedoms but also some large ones that are reasonable like Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt, Turkey. Notice I’m not saying wonderful but reasonable as the claim is “NO minority rights”.

    You’re right Michael. It should be “almost no minority rights”.

    I downloaded and I am reading this very interesting PDF:

    U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom Annual Report 2012

    • In reply to #13 by Fouad Boussetta:

      An interesting example of Muslim tolerance:

      Iran confiscates Buddha statues in crackdown on ‘cultural invasion’

      I am usually on the same wavelength with you, but while confiscating Buddha statues 3000km from Burma is deplorable (less than pogroms, but still), what does it have to do with anything?

      • In reply to #14 by G_O_D:

        I am usually on the same wavelength with you, but while confiscating Buddha statues 3000km from Burma is deplorable (less than pogroms, but still), what does it have to do with anything?

        Just an example of what, typically, eventually happens to Buddhism when it’s exposed to Islam. It’s just totally wiped out.

        According to Wikipedia, “Buddhism in Iran may date as far back as the 5th or 6th century BCE, during the life of the historical Buddha Sakyamuni. […] At the time of the Arab conquests in the mid-7th century, much of the eastern Iranian world was mainly Buddhist. Afghanistan is rich in Buddhist sites; others have been found in Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and within Iran itself.The Arab conquests brought the final demise of Buddhism in Eastern Iran and Afghanistan, although in some sites like Bamiyan and Hadda it survived until the 8th or 9th century.”

        Same with Afghanistan: “Buddhism was one of the major religions in Afghanistan during pre-Islamic era. […] The religion started fading with the arrival of Islam in the 7th century but finally ended during the Ghaznavids in the 11th century.” ENDED.

        Demographics and cultural attitudes of their Muslim minority not helping matters, I really don’t see why the Burmese should relax.

        • In reply to #15 by Fouad Boussetta:

          In reply to #14 by GOD:

          I am usually on the same wavelength with you, but while confiscating Buddha statues 3000km from Burma is deplorable (less than pogroms, but still), what does it have to do with anything?

          Just an example of what, typically, eventually happens to Buddhism when it’s exposed to…

          I believe that distant events in space or time should be irrelevant. Religious cleansing was the norm of the times and continued long after. Muslims were not the champions, not by far. Now I sound like an Islam apologist, don’t I? I simply think that Islam is a big problem today (emphasis on today) and the past champions of religious cleansing are not even close contenders.

          • In reply to #24 by G_O_D:

            I simply think that Islam is a big problem today

            Well, yes. Big indeed. I don’t think I am biased. There is a lot I could write, but it could be too long, so I’ll just explain a bit where I’m coming from. I don’t mind using my real name and picture on this website, and I stand for what I write. I appreciate your constructive criticism [Edited by moderator to bring within Terms of Use].

            My mother is Russian, with a mixed background of atheism, communism, and secularized Orthodox Christianity. My father was Tunisian: he considered himself a Muslim, even though he never prayed, never fasted, ate pork and drank vodka. I was born in Russia and visited it on several occasions. I lived in Tunisia and I am now here in Canada.

            I noticed that except for the small secularized minority, Muslims most often marry their childhood friends or cousins, are not interested by the arts, the sciences, or philosophy, don’t integrate, and so on. They almost never accept responsibility for anything at all : someone else is always to blame. The Jews, the Americans, whatever. In general, they’re extremely prejudiced, against blacks, against gays… I’m particularly troubled by their too frequent endorsement of and satisfaction at terrorism. So it’s already bad enough when they’re passive. I can’t help but be disgusted.

            A significant number are active, like in Moscow where some streets are now regularly blocked by Muslim prayer. In Tunisia, every single minority is now heavily discriminated against. In recent months, the Russian Orthodox church in Tunis was vandalized and so were many Sufi shrines across the country. To me, it’s absolutely obvious that today Islam is much more of a problem and of a threat than, say, the Catholic Church.

          • In reply to #25 by Fouad Boussetta:

            My mother is Russian, with a mixed background of atheism, communism, and secularized Orthodox Christianity. My father was Tunisian: he considered himself a Muslim, even though he never prayed, never fasted, ate pork and drank vodka. I was born in Russia and visited it on several occasions. I lived in Tunisia and I am now here in Canada.

            Nice to meet you. I will not tell you exact details about me because I want to keep my anonymity in everything Internet. Jewish, born in the old Warsaw Pact, used to live in Israel where I was rather with the left and… I am now (freezing) here in Canada.

  7. Moderators’ message

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  8. Excellent Article….I think its a sad sign of the times, when peaceful Buddhist people feel so threatened by Islam that they attack Muslims as the best form of defence….I don’t advocate violence to innocent people, but Buddhists have a right to fight for their own freedoms and traditions…Its not just violent religious oppression that make them fear Islam but Buddhists fight against China’s occupation of Tibet too and they don’t even believe in a god, they are just the easy pacifist target for the violent bullies…they’ve been trying peaceful protest for a long time…..I guess self preservation is a big motivator for getting aggressive….

  9. In reply to #20 by Light Wave:

    Excellent Article….I think its a sad sign of the times, when peaceful Buddhist people feel so threatened by Islam that they attack Muslims as the best form of defence….I don’t advocate violence to innocent people, but Buddhists have a right to fight for their own freedoms and traditions…Its not just violent religious oppression that make them fear Islam but Buddhists fight against China’s occupation of Tibet too and they don’t even believe in a god, they are just the easy pacifist target for the violent bullies…they’ve been trying peaceful protest for a long time…..I guess self preservation is a big motivator for getting aggressive….

    I liked the article too. This was my favourite bit:

    In his recent sermon, he [Ashin Wirathu] described the reported massacre of schoolchildren and other Muslim inhabitants in the central city of Meiktila in March, documented by a human rights group, as a show of strength.

    Look what the poor Buddhists have been driven to. I do hope none of them was hurt when they were busy massacring these schoolchildren.

    I torched an orphanage once and the match head flew off when I was striking it and stuck to my left palm. It really smarted, and there was a mark there for more than a week.

    There were plenty of matches left in the box, so I was able to get the job done. But despite the death toll that night there was no doubt in my mind who the real victim was.

  10. In reply to #27 by Peter Grant:

    In reply to #6 by Fouad Boussetta:

    There is no excuse for violence, but boycotting is (at the very least) OK. I do just that.

    No, it really isn’t.

    Damn straight. I wonder if Fouad Boussetta and the nine people who liked his comment and who one may reasonably assume operate a similar policy of refusing to lend their patronage to businesses owned or operated by Muslims are also of the view that many Muslims’ apparent disinclination to integrate into Western society is all down to some innate insularity in the character of these people; and has nothing whatsoever to do with some indigenes’ own willingness to shun their neighbors and boycott their businesses.

    When you alienate people, fellas, you have to bear some of the responsibility if any of them heads down the path of crime or religious extremism. cf.

    Bigotry comes with a price tag attached. Always has.


    Someone wrote the following: “In every country where muslims are in the minority, they are obsessed with minority rights. In every country in the world where muslims are in the majority, there are NO minority rights.”

    True enough.

    No, false. At least in regard to the second sentence. See Michael Murray’s comment #8, below. As for the first sentence, every minority group tends to obsessed with securing as many rights for itself and its members as it possibly can. I don’t see what’s wrong with that. No one wants to be walked all over.


    In reply to #21 by Katy Cordeth:

    P.S. I did like numbeliever’s comment #37 on that thread…

    Actually, I think that Mein Kampf should be required reading. The totalitarian impulse is very strong and we all need to remain constantly vigilant against it. Wonder what Hitch would have said about all this, here’s a piece he wrote back in 2007.

    I haven’t had time to read the article yet, but intend to.

    I don’t know if Herr Hitler’s magnum opus is available in any of the bookstores near me. In any case, they know me in those places and I wouldn’t want them saying “Ooh, I never took that girl for a Nazi. She always seems so friendly. You live and learn,” after I’ve left.

    I’m also a bit reluctant to try and purchase it online, lest I get put on a CIA or MI5 watchlist; although I think a biography of Fidel Castro or a copy of The Motorcycle Diaries book would be more likely to result in that happening.

    I do think it would be fun to buy a few online copies along with some of Roger Hargreaves’ stories or something, just so on Amazon it said:

    Customers Who Bought Mein Kampf Also Bought Mr Tickle, Mr Bump, Little Miss Splendid…

    As for Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto, I think I’ll pass, despite the rave review it garnered from our friend.

    • In reply to #28 by Katy Cordeth:

      No, false.

      I said it’s true enough, there are elements of truth in the statement.

      I haven’t had time to read the article yet, but intend to.

      Please do, it’s not very long and Hitch was actually there with the protesters shouting “Free Burma!”

      I don’t know if Herr Hitler’s magnum opus is available in any of the bookstores near me.

      Just Google, you can download it for free. Be warned though, it’s a rather dull read.

  11. Petition: Burma: Stop the Next Rwanda

    Most people didn’t know who the Rwandans were until it was too late, and 800,000 of them were dead. Right now, the fate of Burma’s Rohingya people is hanging by a thread. Racist thugs have distributed leaflets threatening to wipe out this small Burmese minority. Already children have been hacked to death and unspeakable murders committed. All signs are pointing to a coming horror, unless we act.

    Genocides happen because we don’t get concerned enough until the crime is committed. The Rohingya are a peaceful and very poor people. They’re hated because their skin is darker and the majority fear they’re ‘taking jobs away’. There are 800,000 of them, and they could be gone if we don’t act. We’ve failed too many peoples, let’s not fail the Rohingya.

    Burmese President Thein Sein has the power, personnel and resources to protect the Rohingya, all he has to do is give the word to make it happen. In days, he’ll arrive in Europe to sell his country’s new openness to trade. If EU leaders greet him with a strong request to protect the Rohingya, he’s likely to do it. Let’s get 1 million voices and plaster images of what’s happening in Burma outside his meetings with key EU heads of state.


    Please sign this petition. It would also be supercool if Richard were to retweet the link.

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