Religious dynamite in Burma

Google translation of Swedish news

Swedish Dagbladet  Religion dynamite in Burma

I Meikhtila i mellersta Burma har tusentals muslimer fått sina hus förstörda av buddhistiska vandaler.
SECTARIANISM Small colorful sticky notes and posters with the digits 969 has begun dive up everywhere in Burma. They sit outside shops, on cars and other places. The background is a wave of sectarianism that is sweeping the country.
In Meikhtila in central Burma, thousands of Muslims had their houses destroyed by Buddhist vandals.
Photo: REUTERS / Damir Sagolj
May 20, 2013 at 03:00, Updated: May 20, 2013 at 7:56 SvD IN BANGKOK

The number 969 is also on Facebook with thousands of followers. The three numbers symbolizing the three pillars of Buddhism: Buddha, his teachings and the monastic order. It may seem innocent – but behind the new wave is an extreme nationalism that threatens those who are not Buddhists and belong to the Burman majority of the people.

In recent months, mobs attacked and burned down shops and homes owned by Muslims in several cities on the central plains north of the old main city of Yangon. At least 100 men, people of all ages, including children, have been murdered, chopped to death with knives or burnt to death.

It is also distributed CDs with terms of a new religious personality, the 45-year-old monk Wira Thu. He condemns Muslims – and accuses them for that assassinate and raping Buddhists. He has called himself a Burmese Osama bin Laden – a militant counterweight to Islamist extremism. 969 shall be Buddhism’s response to Muslim symbol 786, which Wirathu and others claim conceals an Islamic conspiracy.

7 plus 8 plus 6 is 21, and it is now in the twenty first century that the Muslims shall maintain its world domination, according to the theory.

But both Muslim critics and others say that it is pure nonsense. 786 is an old number symbol and there are different interpretations of its origins. But nothing related to our century and världserövringar to do.

What then happens? And how can the Buddhist monks, who should sit and meditate peacefully in their monasteries, advocating violence? The fact is that there is indeed a long tradition of political – and often militant – Buddhism in both Burma and Sri Lanka, two countries that have long had close religious exchanges.

Sri Lanka’s first Prime Minister SWRD Bandaranaike was assassinated by a militant Buddhist monk in 1959. In Burma monks participated in the uprisings against the British colonial power, not always peacefully.

And in Sri Lanka today, it is not uncommon for monks and their followers are attacking Tamils, who are either Hindus or Christians, and also the Muslim minority in the country.

What is happening in Burma, which now for the first time experiencing a degree of freedom, can be compared with developments in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in the fall of communism. After years of totalitarian rule was over, there was reborn in all sorts of extreme manifestations, which had been suppressed for many years, and then in extreme forms: gangsterism, bizarre pornography, neo-Nazism and religious cults.

There are also those who believe that the circuits in the military is behind the 969 to show that they are still the only institution in the country that can maintain law and order in a new political climate, where political parties and new newspapers can operate relatively freely after 60 years direct and brutal military rule.

But whatever the explanation is pouring a new nationalist wave over Burma. And it does not bode well for a country with dozens of different races and languages, where 85-90 percent of the population may be Buddhists, but where there is also a strong element of Muslims, Christians and others.

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