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Extremeism increases among Myanmar Buddhists
TAUNGGYI, Myanmar - After a sacrilegious ceremony, Ashin Wirathu, a Buddhist friar with a Myanmar rocker, was sitting in front of an abundant multitude of thousand followers and started screaming against what he termed "the enemy" - the Moslem majority of the state. "Ashin Wirathu said, referencing Muslims, "You can be full of goodness and loving, but you can't stay asleep next to a crazy canine.
There is a soft Buddhist picture in the worship of the Dalai Lama's self-destructive words, the worldwide appeal of Buddhist-inspired meditations and postcard-perfect South-East Asian and, beyond that, of purple, barefooted friars who receive charity from village people at daybreak. However, last year pictures of angry Burmese Buddhists with blades and the defamatory preaching of indignant friars like Ashin Wirathu underscored the emergence of extremist Buddhism in Myanmar - and exposed a dark side of the country's greater liberties after centuries of reign.
Lynchmobs have murdered more than 200 Muslims and driven more than 150,000 individuals, mostly Muslims, out of their houses. Wirathu Ashin disputes every part in the unrest. Beginning last year on the margins of Burma's community, it has developed into a country-wide move whose agendas now include Muslim goods blacking out.
He spreads his messages through periodic preaching throughout the land, attracting tens of millions of people, and through widespread DVD's of these lectures. Buddha Schools, associated with the ministry, also open parish centres and a Sunday schooling programme for 60,000 Buddha schoolchildren throughout the state. Myanmar's hateful speech and violent behaviour have jeopardized its road to democratization and raised issues about the government's capacity to keep the country's citys secure and its readiness to persecute Buddhists in a Buddha majoritarian state.
Last May, the Indonesian government thwarted a conspiracy to bombing the Myanmar embassy in Jakarta in revenge for the attacks on Muslims. Ashtin Wirathu, the political guide of the extreme movements, draws a fine line between freedom of language and instigation and uses the relaxed limitations of expressiveness in a delicate period of change.
It seems Buddhism has a safe place in Myanmar. Buddhists are nine out of ten and so are almost all the leading figures in the worlds of commerce, administration, the army and the law enforcement.
Ashin Wirathu, however, who calls himself a naturalist, says Buddhism is besieged by Muslims who have more kids than Buddhists and buy up Buddhist lands. To some extent, he takes up historic abuses from the colonisation of Britain when Indians, many of them Muslims, were introduced into the countryside as officials and troops.
"The Myanmar Buddhist community is quite remote and has a thin connection with Buddhists in other parts of the world," Phra Paisal said. Sri Lanka is an exceptional case, another land that has been affected by past racial conflicts. Myanmar friars have been influenced by the forceful policies of Sri Lanka's Sinhala people.
When Myanmar became more polarised, there were indications of a counter-reaction against the anti-Muslim sermon. Disappointments at the outbreak of force and hate-filled public speaking include some of the rulers of the 2007 Saffron Revolution, a non-violent insurrection under the leadership of Buddhist friars against MP.
"Ashin Nyana Nika, 55, who took part in a gathering organized by Moslem groups at the beginning of the monthly to debate the topic, said: "We did not expect this kind of force when we sang for peacemaking and conciliation in 2007. Ashin Sanda Wara, the director of a Yangon convent college, says the nation's friars are almost evenly split between moderate and extremist.
Wirathu Ashin has exploited this fear, which some call "demographic pressure" from neighbouring Bangladesh. In Myanmar, a group of about one million stateless Muslims who call themselves Rohingya, some of whom have emigrated from Bangladesh, is despised. Violations between the Rohingya and Buddhists in West Burma last year have stirred up the Buddhist fellowship and appear to have had a part to play in subsequent violent outbursts across the state.
Wirathu said they inspired him to disseminate his teaching. In Myanmar, many are speculating without evidence that Ashin Wirathu is associated with harsh buddhistic forces in the land who want to use the nationism of his movements to gather assistance before the 2015 electals. Wirathu Ashin disputes such hyperlinks.
Ashin Wirathu's stay here in Taunggyi is marked by road police clearing junctions for his team. Wirathu's motion is called 969, three numbers, which the religious say symbolise the Buddha's virtue, the Buddha ist practice and the buddhistic group. Mawlamyine, a multi-cultural town to the south-east of Yangon, a convent associated with the 969 movements has set up the Sunday Dubhamma Schools.
" The heads of the local convents try to present their campaigns as a kind of Buddhist revivalism. "Ashin Zadila, an elderly friar at Myazedi Nanoo Abbey outside the town, said, "The most important thing is that our faith and our citizenship will not disappar. Ashin Wirathu arrived in Taunggyi two hour before Ashin Wirathu arrived in a convoy of 60 motorbikes honked, Tun Tun Tun Naing, a Moslem salesman on the city's downtown square, whispering about the call.