Religious Youth Push Back Against Buddhist Extremism in Myanmar

A bit of fresh air reported today from Myanmar:

A group of youth activists began distributing t-shirts and stickers promoting religious harmony in Rangoon and Mandalay on Friday, as part of a grassroots campaign to counter the growing threat of Buddhist extremism in Burma.

MyanMar flyers

Dozens of activists travelled through several townships in the former capital planting stickers on cars, shops and windows in response to the growing anti-Muslim “969” movement – led by the notorious Islamophobic monk Wirathu — which calls for Buddhists to shun the Muslim community.

Democratic Voice of Burma

 

The bad news is that Buddhists and Muslims, mutually seeking to escape the violence in Indonesia have gone at each other, with deaths resulting:

Fighting between Buddhist and Muslim asylum seekers from Myanmar at a detention centre on Indonesia’s Sumatra island left eight people dead Friday, police said.

The fighting broke out at around 2:00 am (1900 GMT Thursday) at the Belawan Port immigration detention centre in North Sumatra province, said local police spokesman Heru Raden Prakoso.

“We don’t know how many of the dead are Buddhists and how many are Muslims, or how the clash broke out. But our preliminary findings suggest they were beaten to death with wooden objects,” Prakoso said.

Sayadaw Wirathu

Sayadaw Wirathu

And here is the center of the storm himself:

 Buddhist Monk Saydaw Wirathu, the self-styled “Burmese bin Laden”, has called for a national boycott of Muslim businesses in Myanmar in a controversial video that emerged on YouTube.

Wirathu, who has led numerous vocal campaigns against Muslims in Burma and was arrested in 2003 for distributing anti-Muslim literature, urges Burmese people “to join the 969 Buddhist nationalist campaign” and “do business or interact with only our kind: same race and same faith”.

“Your purchases spent in ‘their’ (Muslim) shops will benefit the Enemy,” says Wirathu. “So, do business with only shops with 969 signs on their facets”.

The numerology of 969 is derived from the Buddhist tradition in which 9 stands for the special attributes of Buddha; 6 for the special attributes of his teaching or Dhamma and 9 for the special attributes of the Sangha or Buddhist order.

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