left biblioblography: The Sound Of One Hand Crapping: Buddhist Violence?

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Sound Of One Hand Crapping: Buddhist Violence?

Cross posted @ the Atheist Oasis

enlightenmentraceIf you meet the Buddha in the road, kill the Buddha.” – Old Zen saying.

Mostly, atheists rail against the Western religions because we are far more familiarized with their patriarchal nonsense, and we grew up around those specific religions. As a rule (myself among the guilty), we tend to romanticize the Eastern religions due to lack of familiarity and/or hesitance because we not quite rubbing shoulders with them. Buddhists for instance, don’t knock on our doors and pass out tracts. They tend as a rule (or appear to be) less aggressive, and actually somewhat more peaceful.

But whenever you get large crowds of any ideology, there are always exceptions.

For instance:

Video shows Burmese police standing by as Buddhists attack Muslims

Video footage has emerged showing Burmese police standing by as Buddhist mobs wielding sticks and swords attack Muslims in Meikhtila – where last month more than 40 people were killed and 12,000 displaced – on the same day that the EU is expected to permanently lift all sanctions against the country.

The footage, apparently shot by police officers, shows Buddhist crowds looting and ransacking a Muslim jewelry shop, cheering when Muslims are attacked, and setting fire to mosques and houses. Later, a man who has been set alight and is believed to be Muslim can be seen lying in the road, surrounded by a crowd of people. "Pour water on him," a man in the crowd commands. "Let him die," shouts another. "No water for him."

Both Buddhist monks and police can be seen through much of the footage – the monks often taking part in the violence, the police watching immobile as it progresses.

Much as I detest the religion of Islam, this is simply unacceptable. Blind mob fury is not a solution for anyone – in such instances, innocents are inevitably targeted and harmed.

How did this come about?

Meet the Burmese ‘Bin Laden’:

Buddhist monk uses racism and rumours to spread hatred in Burma

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.

It’s difficult to get at the root of this – on one hand, there has been at least one instance where one woman was raped and killed by 3 Muslim men, but on the other hand, how many times has this occurred? We all know Islam is a rape culture (how they treat their women strongly indicates this), but saying all Muslim men are rapists is unfair unless there is sufficient evidence to say otherwise. It sounds as if it has been going on for some time, but Myanmar is not likely to be indulging those details anytime soon.

There is also the troubling fact that there is a long history of anti-Muslim violence in Burma.

Much as I detest the religion of Islam, I am a big proponent of fairness and justice to all. Ideological bigotry and bullying shouldn’t be inflicted on anyone, in my book. Beliefs are subject to annihilation, but not lives.

Till the next post, then.

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