Friday, March 29, 2013

The hardline Buddhists targeting Sri Lanka's Muslims

Charles Haviland
March 25, 2013.

Hardline monks and Buddhist groups are trying to outlaw halal certification.

On a January morning a crowd of Buddhist monks storm a law college, yelling, chanting and even hitting one or two seemingly random people and pushing back the police. Furiously they shout that the exam results have been distorted to favour Muslims.

A few weeks later, apparently abetted by the police, monks attack a slaughterhouse in Dematagoda, Colombo, alleging that calves are being slaughtered inside (illegal in the capital) or the meat is improperly stored.

Both are incorrect, but the monks spread rumours that the facility is Muslim-owned as most of the truck drivers are Muslim.

Sri Lankan monks are now taking this so-called "direct action" every few days. It is part of a growing wave of anti-Muslim activities in Sri Lanka carried out by new hardline Buddhist groups - a trend that is making many people anxious, even fearful.

It comes four years after the army in this mainly Sinhalese Buddhist country defeated Tamil separatists.

Read the rest here.
Comment: The reality of militant and violent "hardline" Buddhist monks is troubling given the non-violent teachings of Buddha.  But it is necessary to separate Buddha and his teachings from these nationalist hardliners in Sri Lanka and, of course, Burma and Thailand (to a lesser extent) as well.

The rise of hardline Buddhist speaks more directly to fascist-like nationalism in Sri-Lanka which is described by some in the article as Sinhalese "triumphalism".

With the defeat of the Tamil Tigers, those in power like Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaks are clearly signaling that Sinhalese nationalism is the Sri Lankan way and national identity.

Muslims must, therefore, assimilate or disintegrate - which in effect means the same thing.

It is a worrisome turn of events in Sri Lanka.  No less worrying than what is happening to the Rohyinga in Burma even while Aung San Suu Kyi sits cosily and conspicuously silent among the despotic ruling military junta.

 Aung San Suu Kyi speaks with Major General Zaw Win, Deputy Minister for Border Affairs, during a ceremony marking Myanmar's 68th Armed Forces Day in Naypyidaw. (Credits: AFP, Radio Australia.)


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