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OF late, there has been a rise in tensions involving Muslims living in Buddhist- majority countries such as Myanmar and Sri Lanka. At least 40 people have been killed in recent clashes in Myanmar while mosques and houses have also been destroyed. Media reports indicate Myanmar’s minority Muslims have been on the receiving end of most of the violence. Disturbingly, Buddhist monks have been among the armed rioters while clerics have also incited Buddhists against Muslims. Communal strife is not new in Myanmar; last year there were vicious bouts of violence involving the majority community and Muslim Rohingyas in Rakhine state. Meanwhile, vigilante Buddhist groups led by monks have also been running campaigns against Muslims in Sri Lanka. There have been calls to ban halal meat while Christian churches have also been attacked.

We in Pakistan know too well that if religious extremism is not nipped in the bud it can tear society apart. Simply put, religious fanaticism and xenophobic nationalism in any context form an explosive mixture. Religion is often exploited to achieve more worldly goals. Fanatic elements exist in every faith, yet Buddhism gives off a very placid aura. However, this compassionate image has been distorted by some of the faith’s adherents in Myanmar and Sri Lanka. In Myanmar, both the powerful military, which still pulls the strings of the nascent democratic order, as well as opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi have not done enough to quell rising communalism. Ms Suu Kyi’s refusal to unequivocally condemn anti-Muslim violence has been particularly disturbing, considering her stature. Unless the state and civil society both actively denounce communal and sectarian forces, extremists will only grow from strength to strength. Also, religious leaders of all persuasions must work for harmony rather than division.

Comments (13) Closed

Ram Krishan Sharma Mar 29, 2013 08:01am
What have you done for the protection of non-muslims in Pakistan ?. Now you feel sorry for your fellow muslims when they are mistreated in other countries .
MKB Mar 29, 2013 08:14am
It is very sad and unfortunate that Buddhism also jumped in the intolerant religious mischievous act. It is more indigestible if we learnt that Buddhist Monks, who are bound to be on some binding while performing day to day work, are against in violence and inciting people to commit violence. But at the end, we should admit that human beings are no different. One thing is missing in the editorial is the reason for this communal flare-up It is manhandling of a Buddhist couple by the Muslim Jewelry shopkeeper and in the aftermath killing of a Buddhist Monk by the Muslim mob. Whatever it is, there is no reason to be best justified that Mosque should be burned or destroyed. Regarding Sri Lanka, Dictate from the Muslim clergy to display the Halal certificate even on the non-Muslim shops, is the issue. Later it was withdrawn and made it non-mandatory even for the Muslim shops. Lastly it is a fact that Minorities of all kinds are subject to discrimination in all societies, and countries. It only can be reduced if religion is kept out side of the state administration, overenthusiastic show up of religion and setting up a true secular country. Is Islam is ready for such country?
Ahmed Mar 29, 2013 11:14am
First it was christians, then hindus, now buddhists. Cant we live with peace with anyone??? Is this our religion teaches us.
raika45 Mar 29, 2013 12:15pm
The Buddhists are noted for their peace loving living.The monks would rather immolate themselves to protest an injustice than kill or hurt others.Something is very wrong here.Their anger against the muslims is perplexing.The problem is that your Muslim leaders or the OIC of muslim countries is not willing to intercede in this problem.To sit down and talk the issue out.There has to be a reason for all this.Leaving these muslims to their own peril is not what your umah preaches.
Shouvik mukherjee Mar 29, 2013 03:18pm
30,000 Muslims killed in Pakistan by muslims in the last decade. Worry about that instead of worrying about others.
Suresh Mar 29, 2013 06:49pm
Suresh Chawla Look within you before you make comments.
beg Mar 29, 2013 09:40pm
mr perhaps dont know how to write english as he is implicating muslims to be the aggressor rather than victoms in burma,srilanks and in india,palestine and bosnia,or mr ahmed is himself aggressor in writing such unjust remarks
beg Mar 29, 2013 09:45pm
mr ram dont play with fire by such comments,one wrong doesnot make it right and you know hindus live all over the world in minorities and you are putting them at risk by such comments
Ravi Mar 29, 2013 11:08pm
Please pass on this message also to your Pakistani Muslim brothers specially talibans who are damaging the image of peace loving Islam by their actions against fellow muslims and non muslims.
Tuglaq Mar 29, 2013 11:23pm
It is interesting that the Muslim minority in each of the said countries had no issue in dictating their values on the majority. Be it the Halal certificate, or the killing of the Buddhist monk. Retaliation is bound to happen if there is no consideration of the sensibilities of the other faith. What you sow, so you reap. The Bamiyan Buddha destruction in Afghanistan, Hindu/Sikh temple destructions in Pakistan and Bangladesh, grave desecration and other atrocities on Ahmadiyas in Pakistan, no religious freedom for minorities in the gulf states....the list goes on and on. Something has to give and it may not be pretty if saner heads do not prevail. The Muslim ummah better take the lead in this matter and not play the victim card. They started it.
Tellthetruth Mar 30, 2013 01:30am
The historical hypocrisy of Muslims all over the world. Until the blasphemy law is revoked in Pakistan, Muslims should keep quiet about these episodes in Myanmar ans Sri Lanka, especially when these incidents were started and provoked by Muslims in the first place!! And why did the Editors fail to mention that in the above piece??
kausik Mar 30, 2013 02:11am
My brother used to say when we point one finger at others 4 fingers point to please be fair and look in to your society how minorities are treated and show the world instead of highlighting how Muslims are treated in other countries as Pakistan is not the only Muslim country.The Tamil Leader in India is threatening to withdraw support upa in Delhi claiming Tamils are mistreated in sri Lanka looks like Sri Lanka is on receiving end.
RSS Mar 30, 2013 05:41am
Your religion may. Islam teaches peace except in self defense.