Author Topic: Defending Religion  (Read 1118 times)

Offline Dharmakara

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Defending Religion
« on: January 20, 2014, 05:40:56 pm »
Myanmar Buddhist Monks Launch Group for ‘Defending Religion’


(Monks pray at the conference in Mandalay, Jan. 15, 2014. RFA)

Thousands of Buddhist monks in Myanmar, including leaders of a controversial anti-Muslim movement, gathered Wednesday to establish a new “fortress”-like association aimed at defending their religion.

The meeting, held in the northern city of Mandalay, launched the Organization for the Protection of Race, Religion, and Belief, starting with an Upper Myanmar chapter.

“Forming this association makes us stronger, as if we have built a fortress in Upper Myanmar which people from different religions won’t be able to destroy,” Raza Dhamma, a prominent monk and conference organizer, told the congregation.

He said the association would “help our nationality and religion to endure” in Myanmar, where a wave of anti-Muslim sentiment has spread across the 60 million-strong Buddhist majority since a nominally civilian government took over in 2011 following decades of tightly controlled military rule.

Prominent monks from across the country participated in the meeting, including Wirathu, leader of a controversial nationwide campaign known as the “969 Movement” which claims Myanmar’s minority Muslims are threatening the Buddhist majority. 


Sectarian tensions

Radical Buddhist monks have been accused of spreading hate speech and fueling sectarian violence as the country was ravaged by anti-Muslim violence in 2012 and 2013 that left more than 200 people dead and tens of thousands homeless, mostly Muslims.

The clashes first broke out in western Rakhine state, home to minority Rohingya Muslims considered stateless in Myanmar, and later spread to communities in other parts of the country. 

Rights groups have said Rohingya Muslims bore the brunt of the violence in Rakhine state and blamed radical anti-Muslim Buddhist monks for stoking tensions in other areas.

Some monks told the Mandalay conference that peaceful coexistence with other religions was critical while defending Buddhism.


Coexisting communities

Nyanissara, a prominent monk who addressed the conference, said Buddhist monks’ efforts to promote interfaith dialogue had helped ease inter-communal tensions since last year.

“We have more natural understanding and respect for one another than before because we have tried to hold interfaith dialogues on coexistence,” he told RFA’s Myanmar Service after the meeting, which followed a similar forum in the commercial capital Yangon last year.

“What all of us from different religions and different nationalities must know is that we have to live together in the land of Myanmar peacefully and in safety, with mutual understanding and respect.”

In his speech, he urged monks not to react angrily if people from outside the country accuse Buddhist monks of inciting violence.

“If people from other countries accuse us of being terrorist monks, please don’t get angry or be upset. If you do, it will be dangerous for the unity of our community of Buddhist monks.” 


'Protecting religion and nationality'

The meeting, like last year’s conference in Yangon, had helped encourage support for “protecting our religion and nationality,” he said. 

At last year’s conference, which Wirathu helped organize, monks supported a proposal of his for a new law restricting interfaith marriage.

Since then members of the 969 Movement, which is named after numbers symbolizing the virtues of the Buddha, and other monks have been working to collect signatures and earn lawmakers’ support for the proposal.

The 969 Movement also calls on Buddhists to boycott Muslim-owned shops and avoid fraternizing with Muslims.


Source: Radio Free Asia (RFA)
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/buddhist-congress-01152014180734.html

Offline francis

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Re: Defending Religion
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 01:23:05 am »
It’s a difficult question to answer, how do countries like Burma defend themselves against Islam?

First, I think we have to stop pretending Islam is the religion of peace and face the fact that Islam has always been the religion of the sword, more recently the religion of the suicide bomber.  Pretending otherwise is not a solution, nor is pandering to the people who suggests it is wrong to speak out against another religion, because if you do you speak out you are a racist (not sure of correct word here). Then there is the obviously problem of condoning a religion that bombs people into silence when they are criticised or can’t get their own way.

As Sam Harris said in his article, Bombing Our Illusions (10th October 2005).

“While the other major world religions have been fertile sources of intolerance, it is clear that the doctrine of Islam poses unique problems for the emergence of a global civilization. The world, from the point of view of Islam, is divided into the “House of Islam” and the “House of War,” and this latter designation should indicate how Muslims believe their differences with those who do not share their faith will be ultimately resolved.

While there are undoubtedly some moderate Muslims who have decided to overlook the irrescindable militancy of their religion, Islam is undeniably a religion of conquest. The only future devout Muslims can envisage - as Muslims - is one in which all infidels have been converted to Islam, politically subjugated, or killed. The tenets of Islam simply do not admit of anything but a temporary sharing of power with the “enemies of God.”

Devout Muslims can have no doubt about the reality of Paradise or about the efficacy of martyrdom as a means of getting there. Nor can they question the wisdom and reasonableness of killing people for what amount to theological grievances. In Islam, it is the moderate who is left to split hairs, because the basic thrust of the doctrine is undeniable: convert, subjugate, or kill unbelievers; kill apostates; and conquer the world.”

The situation has escalated since 2005, look at the sectarian wars in Africa (many), Egypt, Syria, Iraq and more recently Russia, and many other countries.

However, I think the situation in Burma is different in some respects because the British imported plantation workers from Bengal. Then when the British left, they left a large population that was not welcome in Burma, Bangladesh or England.  This has caused many problems.

The Rohingya conflict in Western Burma has been waged by different Rohingya Muslim militant groups since 1947. Their initial ambition during Mujahideen movements (1947-1961) was to separate the Rohingya-populated Mayu frontier region of Arakan from western Burma and annex that region into newly formed neighbouring East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh).

In the 1970s, their uprisings appeared again during the period of the Bangladesh Liberation War in 1971. Recently, during the Arakan State Riots, the aspiration of the Rohingya militant groups, according to various media reports, is to create northern part of Arakan an independent or autonomous (Islamic) state.

More recently violence flared up again in the 2012 Rakhine State riots.

So, until Islam starts to take responsibility for its religious violence, then I think the monks and many others have no option but to defend themselves against religious violence.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2014, 01:44:01 am by francis »
"Enlightenment, for a wave in the ocean, is the moment the wave realises it is water." - Thich Nhat Hanh

Offline former monk john

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Re: Defending Religion
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 01:34:12 am »
Actually most muslims are quite moderate, even a lot of the Imams or clerics, its the right wing types that are causing all this crap, same with christianity, the right wing gets credit for representing the whole of Christianity, even in Burma we have right wing buddhists who are no really representative of all Buddhists.
to me, the signs of a successful practice are happiness and a cessation of suffering, buddhism often gives me this; not all the answers.

Offline NepalianBuddhist

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Re: Defending Religion
« Reply #3 on: July 05, 2014, 10:13:58 pm »
While I'm a Christian/Buddhist I've since preferred Non-Religious.

 


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