Thursday, April 18, 2013

Buddhist Monk Uses Racism and Rumours to Spread Hatred in Burma

The Guardian (UK)
Kate Hodal
April 18, 2013.

Thousands watch YouTube videos of 45-year-old 'Burmese Bin Laden' who preaches against country's Muslim minority
See YouTube video of Wiruthu here.  (Picture Credit)
His name is Wirathu, he calls himself the "Burmese Bin Laden" and he is a Buddhist monk who is stoking religious hatred across Burma.

The saffron-robed 45-year-old regularly shares his hate-filled rants through DVD and social media, in which he warns against Muslims who "target innocent young Burmese girls and rape them", and "indulge in cronyism".

To ears untrained in the Burmese language, his sermons seem steady and calm – almost trance-like – with Wirathu rocking back and forth, eyes downcast. Translate his softly spoken words, however, and it becomes clear how his paranoia and fear, muddled with racist stereotypes and unfounded rumours, have helped to incite violence and spread misinformation in a nation still stumbling towards democracy.

"We are being raped in every town, being sexually harassed in every town, being ganged up on and bullied in every town," Wirathu recently told the Guardian, speaking from the Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay where he is based.

"In every town, there is a crude and savage Muslim majority."

It would be easy to disregard Wirathu as a misinformed monk with militant views, were it not for his popularity. Presiding over some 2,500 monks at this respected monastery, Wirathu has thousands of followers on Facebook and his YouTube videos have been watched tens of thousands of times.

The increasing openness of Burma, which was once tightly controlled under a military junta, has seen a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment spread across the 60 million-strong Buddhist majority – and Wirathu is behind much of it.

Rising to prominence in 2001, when he created a nationalist campaign to boycott Muslim businesses, Wirathu was jailed for 25 years in 2003 for inciting anti-Muslim hatred but freed in 2010 under a general amnesty.

Since his release, Wirathu has gone back to preaching hate. Many believe his words inspired the fighting last June between Buddhists and ethnic Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine state, where 200 people were killed and more than 100,000 displaced.

Read the rest here.
Comment: It never ceases to amaze me how any Buddhist, let alone a monk, can preach hatred and violence against Rohingya Muslims.

It does not take more than just a rudimentary knowledge of Buddhism to recognize that such hatred is not in keeping with the moral principles of Buddha.

But it is important to separate Buddhism from what these vicious racists are doing to Rohingya Muslims in Burma.

What we are witnessing is a kind of fascist nationalism that cares little about the universal application of Buddha's moral principles.

For this reason Wirathu and his followers are nothing more than racist thugs in the service of a despotic government that now includes Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi - go figure hey.

Picture Credit


cosmicyoruba said...

Salam Ridwan. Thanks for sharing this, it just goes to show that no religion is free from being used and turned into a tool to spread hate regardless of its true principles. I doubt anyone would have expected a Buddhist monk to spread such hate and incite violence as a result of it.

Ridwan said...

WSLM Cosmicyoruba:

Thanks kindly for your comment. Always great to hear from you my sista.

You are absolutely right. Religions - all of them - are open to being manipulated for selfish and too often violent purposes.

It would be a good and reasonable thing if more folks recognized this point.

Be well.