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Friday, February 13, 2015

Buddhist -Islam Clash in Burma


Burma is a country on the eastern part of India. It was a British colony till 1947, when the English left. Burma after independence charted a distinct course, which was characterized by military rule  and Buddhist Chauvinism. The Buddhists who were long a subject people, suddenly stated a campaign against other religious minorities. The purpose was basically economic, but now it has taken the shape of intolerance of other religions, particularly Islam. One thing that does go in favor of Buddhists is that Islam is an equally intolerant  group in Burma and the people following Islam have failed to integrate with Burmese life.
Burma is at the cross roads. After decades of military rule the country is veering slowly towards democracy. Despite this the undercurrents of ethnic conflict continue and there is tension between Buddhist and Muslims. Recently in an interview on BBC a Buddhist Monk in Mandalay was of the opinion that Muslims are  growing at a faster rate and thus were a threat to the Buddhists in Burma.
Most Burmese Muslims have lived in Burma for generations but as recent riots in central Burma have shown the animosity of the Buddhists against the Muslims has grown. Muslims homes were burnt and many young Burmese Muslim girls were captured and gang raped. The army intervened but has not been able to do much.

In Mandalay the people are being exhorted by Buddhists not to buy anything from Muslim shops. Thus an economic boycott is being put into practice. The army is just an onlooker and even during army rule the military had killed and raped many Muslims.There have been reports of young Muslim girls being taken to army camps and kept as  'comfort women'.

Burma is an ethnic cauldron. Earlier the Burmese had attacked Hindus and threw them out. They would like to do the same to Muslims also; unfortunately these Muslims unlike the Hindus who went to India have no place to go. Maybe the UNO or the USA may have to step in, before things deteriorate further