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Old 06-22-2013, 12:47 AM   #1
John Ferguson
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Default Radical Buddhist monk accused of inciting riots that have killed hundreds of Muslims

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Wirathu (Center), a Buddhist monk from Mandalay whose anti-Muslim remarks have come under recent scrutiny, attends a conference about the religious violence that has shaken Myanmar.

They're known for preaching peace, kindness and love, but a radical breed of anti-Islamic Buddhist monk is wreaking havoc in Myanmar, resulting is lynch-mob killings and the forced removal of more than 150,000 Muslims from their homes.

Mass boycotts of Muslim-owned stores and anti-Islamic riots have plagued Myanmar's transition to democracy after decades years of military rule, according to the New York Times. Up to 250 Muslims have been killed and countless others injured in the riots - the most violent of which occurred in the central city of Meiktila in March.

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Policemen form a line as they block access to part of Meiktila

Passionate sermons by self-proclaimed "Radical Buddhist", Wirathu, are being blamed for stirring the troubles.
“You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog,” Ashin Wirathu told the Times.

“I call them troublemakers, because they are troublemakers."

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Residents walk past buildings burning in riot-hit Meiktila

“I am proud to be called a radical Buddhist.”

Wirathu is a key leader of "969," an ultra-nationalist movement of monks that preaches that the country's small Muslim minority threatens racial purity and national security. His face covers Time magazine's foreign editions this week over the headline: "The Face of Buddhist Terror".

“People give me various names,” Wirathu said told Britain's The Times recently.

“The Burmese Bin Laden, the bald Neo-Nazi.

“Do you know the English Defence League?” he asked.

“We would like to be like EDL. Not carrying out violence, but protecting the public.”

What started as a fringe movement has now gone nationwide in the country of 55 million, in which 90 per cent of the population is Buddhist compared to the muslim minority (4 to 8 per cent).

“If we are weak, our land will become Muslim," Wirathu said in a recent sermon in which he also called the March riots a show of strength.

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Firemen attempt to extinguish a fire during riots in Meikhtila

Ten Muslims have been sentenced to prison terms of up to 28 years in connection with the riots in Meiktila but it's believed no Buddhists have been convicted.

The group Human Rights Watch has called the actions against Muslims in Myanmar "ethnic cleansing" while the Dalai Lama said killing in the name of religion was "unthinkable".

Upon seeing his photo splashed across the cover of Time, Wirathu said no amount of bad publicity could hurt him.

The 46-year-old is accustomed to — even flattered by — the foreign reporters who steadily parade through his monastery in the city of Mandalay to ask about religious violence that has swept his predominantly Buddhist nation in the last year — fueled in no small part by his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

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Controversial Buddhist monk Wirathu, who is accused of instigating sectarian violence between Buddhists and Muslims through his sermons.
"A genuine ruby will shine," said Wirathu, "even if you try to sink it in mud."

New freedoms of speech have made it easier to disseminate radical views, while exposing deep-seeded racism felt by much of the population toward Muslims and other minorities.

There has been almost no public outcry when Buddhist mobs have marched into villages brandishing machetes and clubs, but the appearance of a Burmese monk on the cover of the glossy international magazine with an inflammatory title was apparently too much.

The social networking site Facebook was alight with criticism.

Dozens changed their profiles to mock-covers of Time with the word "Boycott." One person lamented that the image of his country — and faith — was being tarnished.

"Some people misunderstood the title ... seeing it as an insult to religion," said Dr. Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst. "They believe it's equating Buddhism with terrorism."

Few took the opportunity to criticize Wirathu, however, saying it was further evidence of media bias. The monk has repeatedly called on Buddhists to unite against the "threat" Muslims pose to the country and its culture, accusing them of breeding too fast and hijacking the business community.

The Time article quoted him as saying this was not the time to stay calm.

"Now is the time to rise up, to make your blood boil," he said.
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