A sordid video from 2012, in Myanmar displays the brutal murder of a woman at the hands of Muslim assailants. The attackers raped the woman as well.
ABC News reports that her death served a catalyst, of sorts, regarding the growing hostility between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar. For the most part, the relationship between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims are globally overlooked in the Southeast Asian nation as tensions continue to rise.
The video received thousands of views until Facebook effectively blocked it on Feb. 1. However the video still ignited widespread violence between majority Buddhists and minority Muslims in the Southeast Asian nation.
The Ma Ba Tha Monks — a rather radical sect of Buddhists — are going to reenact the murder to raise awareness and perpetrate the growing animosity towards all Muslims. The Ma Ba Tha Monks are also known as the Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion, and they are at the center of the disparity against Muslims and Myanmar.
U.S. researchers has confirmed that the divisive religious group of monks, Ma Ba Tha, have been a central driving force for the current trend against Muslims.
One of the Ma Ba Tha’s senior monks, Ashin Wirathu, has a prominent influence on the group. His radicalism is one of the reasons why the Ma Ba Tha’s prejudices have a resounding impact on society in Myanmar.
Of course, prejudice and discrimination against Muslims is nothing new unfortunately as it is evident even in politics. Al Jazeera notes that early in the GOP presidential race, success almost seemed certain for the candidate whom could best malign and create fear against Muslims.
And in the first primary state of Iowa, almost half of the Republicans are divided on whether practicing Islam should even be allowed in the United States. An astounding 49 percent of Republicans think that the religion should be outlawed. And staggering 77 percent agree with Trump with his notion that President Barack Obama is waging a war on Christianity.
Donald Trump and these firebrand monks might get along, as their sentiments about Islam are on the same page. Conflict and security research group, C4ADS, spent several months studying hate speech in Myanmar.
It focused primarily on the Ma Ba Tha monks, scrutinizing the social media accounts of the group’s leading monks and followers.
The research group noted this about the Ma Ba Tha monks.
“We find a decentralized, but still highly organized, group that operates with unrivaled freedom.”
They follow the monk’s activist rallies, legislative campaigns, powerful media network, and pressure directed at judges and police to influence legal cases.
In other words, the Ma Ba Tha monk’s mission is to infiltrate every facet of Myanmar society to push their firebrand agenda.
To make matters worse, the incoming government, led by Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party, or NLD, is highly unlikely to confront Ma Ba Tha monks about hate speech and influence on Buddhism.
However the Ma Ba Tha denies spreading hate speech. Ma Ba Tha central committee member, Ashin Parmoukkha told the Associated Press as much.
“We are not telling anyone to hate Muslims or kill them or anything like that. We are just trying to protect our own race and religion and showing love to our country.”
A rather harrowing statement really. Because showing such zeal for “protection,” “preservation,” and “patriotism” are also rhetoric devices used by such American hate groups, such as the Ku Klux Klan and White Nationalist groups.
And even Buddhisms less extreme practitioners view Muslims as a threat to some degree — Muslims only accounting for about 5 to 10 percent of the population in Myanmar.
Vice chairman of the Ma Ba Tha monks, Sitagu Sayadaw, organized a peace conference to discuss the state of Islam with more than 50 countries participating last month.
The renowned Buddhist monk told the United State delegation that they “are living in constant daily fear of falling under the sword of the Islamic extremists.”
The Ma Ba Tha monks have also been influencing media outlets in Myanmar as well. It is reported that they oversee a network of offices, newspapers, and televised Buddhist sermons.
Do you think that these firebrand Monks speech draw parallels to anti-Muslim rhetoric in America?
[AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena]