Wednesday, August 14, 2013 at 5:27 AM

Buddhist Monks Terrorizing Myanmar and Sri Lanka?

Posted by Anthony L. Hall

Reza Aslan I am not. But I believe I can assert without fear of contradiction that, more than any other religion, Buddhism has a reputation for inspiring peace, harmony, and non-violence.

sri_lanka_muslim_buddhistsThis is why reports last year about Buddhist monks behaving like Islamic terrorists struck me as utterly surreal. So much so in fact that instead of commenting on the contradictions inherent in their behavior, I commented on the failure of their de facto secular leader to condemn it:

Nothing demonstrates the extent to which she has been co-opted quite like Suu Kyi’s deafening silence about the ongoing religious cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Buddhists. Especially given that the UN has called Myanmar’s Muslims ‘the world’s most persecuted people.’

Yet when challenged to explain her silence, the Buddhist Suu Kyi demurred, saying self-righteously that she was not taking sides to preserve her impartiality to help them reconcile. But just imagine how much worse the religious cleansing of minority Muslims by majority Hindus in India would have been if the Hindu Gandhi had not been so vocal in condemning it?

(“Obama’s Historic Trip to Myanmar: Too Soon?” The iPINIONS Journal, November 12, 2012)

Except that this is rather like expecting President Obama to be more responsible for rebuking Catholic priests for sexually abusing little boys than the Pope himself, no?

Which is why I was so heartened when the Dalai Lama expressed this plaintive rebuke earlier this year:

Killing people in the name of religion is really very sad, unthinkable, very sad. Nowadays even Buddhists now involved, in Burma and Sri Lanka also. Buddhist monks … destroy Muslim mosques or Muslim families … really very sad.

(Associated Press, May 8, 2013)

dl-myanAlas, it appears the Dalai Lama’s spiritual control over the behavior of Buddhist monks is no greater than his political control over the governing of Tibet (from where he has been exiled for over 50 years).

For, despite his entreaties, Buddhists are continuing their campaign of religious cleansing against Muslims.

A Buddhist mob attacked a mosque in Sri Lanka’s capital and at least 12 people were injured, the latest in a series of attacks on the minority Muslim community by members of the Buddhist majority.

(Reuters, August 11, 2013)

But is it just me, or is a “Buddhist mob” every bit as oxymoronic as an al-Qaeda peacenik?

Ultimately, though, given the resurgent Catholic/Republican vs. Protestant/Loyalist “troubles” in Northern Ireland, Islamic terrorism worldwide, Sunni vs. Shiite strife across the Middle East, and Jewish “apartheid” in Palestine, just to name a few, one could be forgiven the impression that religion is more often the source of conflict and immorality than harmony and morality.

Related commentaries:
Obama historic trip
South Africa bans Dalai Lama
China in Tibet

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