“Deadly conflict between Buddhists and Muslims”

“Deadly conflict between Buddhists and Muslims”
http://cnn.it/1FMEeVe
On July, 06 2014 CNN released the article, “curfew imposed after deadly clashes between Buddhists, Muslims in Myanmar” (Hume, 2014). Myanmar is located in Southeast Asia and is predominantly Buddhist. Muslims consist of approximately 5% of the population. According to this article, several violent religious attacks over the years have targeted Muslims. This particular riot was due to an accused Muslim for rapping a Buddhist woman. The riot took place for two days and in the end one Buddhist and one Muslim were found dead, while 14 were injured. “Extremist Buddhist nationalist elements, such as the 969 Movement, have been accused of fanning the flames of hatred, and pushing for discriminatory laws, including a proposed ban on interfaith marriage” (Hume, 2014). There is fear because monks are participating in this hatred towards the Muslims. The riot took place approximately 5-10 minutes away from a monastery. These acts of violence are occurring very close to sacred grounds.
Matthew Smith explains that the Buddhist extremists are using social media to expand their violent platform of anti-Muslim. The Myanmar’s government has temporarily suspended the use of Facebook, in response to the unrests connection to social media. Activists are now attempting to stand-up against the violence between the two religious groups. Their main campaign is an attempt to change an old mind-set that dates back to colonial times and Myanmar’s rulers. Religious violence and ethnic conflict has been an increasing problem since June, 2012. This unrest has left many dead or homeless. From this particular riot there has been 9 arrests: 5 Muslim and 4 Buddhist.
I really believe that this riot is not something new across time and space in our history. If it is shocking that a predominate religion is showing signs of hatred over another; you have most likely been absent from watching any news station. I do not think that we should be labeling extremist groups to a religion though. By doing this in the media I feel like we are giving society the wrong perception of what that religion is. Extremist groups that say they are killing ‘in the name of their faith’ I think is an excuse. Rightly or wrongly they are expanding hate culture into their religion.
Currently, I am enrolled in a religious studies class that has spoken of both Buddhist and Muslim religion. From what I understand Buddhism contains many traditions and belief practices that are based on the teachings of Siddhartha Gautama. They practice meditation and participate in many ceremonies; while holding the belief of transmigration. Muslims are involved in daily prayer and follow the teachings of Muhammad. Their religion is based on the Quran. I do not believe they are told in these teachings to hate one another. I hope that these two groups can find peace within one another, but changing the mindset of old ways may not be possible. I do not believe that it is religious ideals causing the conflict, but an extremist group using religion as a way to separate the people.
Reference: Hume, T. (2014). Curfew imposed after deadly clashes between Buddhists, Muslims in Myanmar. CNN World. Retrieved from http://cnn.it/1FMEeVe.
PMT #200 #uwreligions #uofc

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One thought on ““Deadly conflict between Buddhists and Muslims”

  1. It does seem counter-intuitive that there is such violence and hatred perpetuated in the name of religion, particularly since most religions, including Buddhism and Islam, do not advocate for this. For instance, Buddhism is commonly associated with peace, with its emphasis on eliminating the ego (or atman) and emptying oneself of all desires, as well as its central tenet of karma, which emphasizes admirable conduct to improve one’s life as well as his or her subsequent lives. The situation in Myanmar seems to contradict these central tenets of Buddhism. However, upon closer review, it is perhaps not so surprising to see how the situation in Myanmar has developed to such a state. Particularly, the link between Buddhism and nationalism in Myanmar is very strong. In addition, a practice that is observed is reverence to divine kingship and the principle of “chakravartin” – namely that the ruler shall serve his subjects well (Rowe, P., 2012, p. 164). It is easy to see how these principles in particular can be distorted by extremist groups.

    A military regime was put in place shortly after Myanmar obtained independence from Britain. This regime deepened the commitment to Buddhism, as they interpreted it, and made use of propaganda to perpetuate these principles, as well as the discrimination against those who did not subscribe to them, particularly the large population of Muslims who reside there.

    Violence and hatred perpetuated in the name of religion is not new and it is reminiscent of many other situations in the world today. While the ideals of the religion may not necessarily advocate for such violence and hatred, a distortion of these ideals, together with strong feelings of religious nationalism, may be responsible.

    The activism that is currently being shown in response to Myanmar’s situation is an important step to changing it. It is important that knowledge of the atrocities continues to be made known throughout the world. The violence occurring in Myanmar is numerous and a change in the mindset of the population is essential to making headway towards ending them.

    TEA
    RELS349

    1. Rowe, Paul. (2012). Religion and Global Politics. Canada: Oxford University Press. p. 164

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