As we reported yesterday, violence has broken out between Buddhists and Muslims in the city of Meiktili, central Burma. The fighting has now spread to neighboring villages, and the death toll is estimated to be at least 20. The New York Times has the full story.
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Government officials in Tehran are apparently confiscating Buddha statues from stores to stop the spread of Buddhism in Iran. An official for the protection of cultural heritage has labeled them “a cultural invasion” and said that authorities wouldn’t let a belief be promoted through the items.
A Tehran shopkeeper says customers who buy the statues don’t seem to be interested in Buddhism and just want them to decorate their homes. Read More »
At its Executive and Advisory Board meeting this month, the International Network of Engaged Buddhists ratified a statement condemning ongoing violence between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma’s Rakhine state, and calling for the Burmese government and religious leaders to work toward a resolution.
“We hope that it expresses the concerns of Buddhists around the world who are witness to the communal conflict and violence in Myanmar’s western Rakhine state,” said Hozan Alan Senauke. “Clearly this conflict must be resolved by the Burmese peoples themselves, but this statement affirms that INEB and Buddhists everywhere care about the well-being of Burma’s emerging democracy and of all its peoples. We send our encouragement and faith in the Buddha’s great way.”
Read the statement after the jump. Read More »
Meet Ven. Miao Hong — First Buddhist appointee to the Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
By Danny Fisher
As we head toward the US elections on Tuesday, one of the accomplishments that President Barack Obama can claim (whether he keeps his job or not) is the historic first-ever appointment of a Buddhist to the President’s Advisory Council of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships: Venerable Miao Hong Hsiangju Liu, the Humanitarian Project Liaison for both the International Buddhist Progress Society (IBPS) and Buddha’s Light International Association (BLIA) in the United States and Australia, and the BLIA representative to the United Nations. Read More »
Nearly 60 people have been killed in the latest series of clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in western Burma. The violence broke out over the weekend and has spread to several towns, including the commercially important Kyaukpyu. How many homes and other buildings have been destroyed is unclear, but Reuters reports that the number is in the hundreds. Security forces are in Rakhine, trying to stop the unrest and imposing curfews in some towns. Read More »
Bangladeshi Buddhists who were displaced by rioting and violence on Saturday have started returning to their homes as Bangladesh’s government promised to protect them. Soldiers and police have been deployed to the districts of Cox’s Bazar and Chittagong, near the Burmese border, and the government has banned public gatherings in the area. Security officials say they’ve detained 166 people in connection with the riots. Read More »
In Bangladesh, Buddhist temples and homes have been attacked in a wave of arson and violence perpetuated by area Muslims angered by what is said to be an image of a burning Quran. A young Buddhist local is responsible for the image, they say, having posted it on Facebook.
The Associated Press has a report (via HuffPost.)
By Danny Fisher
Last week, I had the great honor and pleasure of attending Amnesty International’s town hall event with Burma’s Nobel Peace laureate and engaged Buddhist icon Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. Held at the Newseum in Washington, DC, and moderated by MSNBC’s Alex Wagner, the event came only a day after “Daw Suu” met with President Barack Obama and received the US Congress’s highest civilian honor, the Congressional Gold Medal.
Suu Kyi is the leader of Burma’s National League for Democracy and currently sits in the lower house of the country’s parliament. Her election came after she had spent 15 of the 21 years between 1989 and 2010 under house arrest. During that time, she became the symbol for Burma’s struggle for democracy and freedom from the repressive ruling junta. In addition, she became the world’s most recognized prisoner of conscience during that time — thanks not only to her Nobel Prize and the international media, but also to the efforts of Amnesty International. The town hall, then, celebrated a special relationship between guest and host. Read More »
Writing in Foreign Policy, William McGowan reflects this week on what he terms “Burma’s Buddhist chauvinism.” In discussing the plight of the country’s Rohingya Muslim minority in the Rakhine state, McGowan sees “a nationalistic and at times hateful side” of Buddhism there. You can read the entire piece here.
In addition, the Bangkok Post‘s Assistant Editor, Sanitsuda Ekachai, offers an even more strongly worded editorial, “This is Racism, Not Buddhism.” The opinion focuses on the disparity between Buddhist teachings and Burmese monks’ leadership in anti-Rohingya demonstrations. Read More »
Voice of America reports today that two staff members with the United Nations and one United Nations partner have been sentenced to prison terms in Burma for their alleged involvement in the violence between Muslims and Buddhists in the Rakhine state. According to CNN, one is from the UN refugee agency, one is from the UN food program, and one is from a nongovernmental organization that works with the refugee agency.
Aye Win, a UN spokesperson in Burma, said the sentences were handed down on Friday, although the UN was never notified of the trial and the accused were denied legal counsel. Read More »
In honor of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a group of Buddhists has issued this open letter expressing their growing concerns about Islamophobia from governments and within the Buddhist community.
Organized by Joshua Eaton and Buddhadharma News reporter Danny Fisher, the letter points to examples of Muslims being targeted for hate crimes, police profiling, and basic human rights abuses — including recent attempts by Buddhist monks in Burma to block humanitarian aid from reaching persecuted Rohingya Muslims — and calls for them to stop. Read More »
The Buddhist Channel offers an interesting post this week concerning the recent regime change in Hungary and its effects on the nation’s Buddhist population. Buddhist groups in the country will no longer be recognized as religious groups.
In the most recent elections, Fidesz – Hungarian Civic Union claimed a two-thirds majority in Parliament. Socially conservative, one of Fidesz’s first acts was to enact the new “Law on the Right to Freedom of Conscience and Religion, and on Churches, Religions and Religious Community,” which has drawn criticism because it privileges certain religious communities over others. Read More »
We reported on the violence and unrest in Burma’s Rakhine state about a week and a half ago—clashes between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims began after a Buddhist woman was reportedly raped and murdered by three Muslims. At that time, there were about 17 reported deaths, but that number has now risen to around 50.