The Origins of Burma’s Old and Dangerous Hatred

A Nationalist Strain of Buddhism Has Unleashed Violence Against a Muslim Minority

In a recent interview with a Guardian journalist, the Burmese monk U Rarzar expressed his country’s rationale for fearing and repressing its Muslim minority. “[The] Ma Ba Tha is protecting people from terrorists like ISIS,” U Rarzar told the British newspaper. “Muslims always start the problems, such as rape and violence.” While U Rarzar’s comments might seem shocking, they repeat a script that Burmese Buddhists have said for almost one hundred years.

The fear, suspicion, and ill will, if not active hatred, that Burmese Buddhists bear toward Muslims is pervasive. …

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