Burma, ethno-Buddhism, racism and religious persecution

I have written before about Burma (Myanmar) and its persecuted Rohingya population as well as the lack of interest both in the ASEAN countries as well as in the western mass media (see The other, invisible suffering of Burma, Rohingya Odyssey: a silent cultural genocide?, Rohingya Muslims and injustice: a security issue, Rohingyas: not solely a political problem, Selling lives: Rohingyas face deportation from Bangladesh). Since June, Burma and its Rohingya Muslim population have attracted a wider mass media presence. On May 28, in a village in the central part of Rakhine State, three Muslim members of the Rohingya ethnic group allegedly raped and killed a Buddhist woman. Retaliation did not take long and on June 3, a group of Arakan attacked a bus carrying Rohingya in southern Rakhine and 10 people were killed. Continue reading

The dangerous crypto-intolerance of tolerant Malaysia: the case of Shi’a Islam

You cannot ban a religion or a ‘religious sect’. You can only persecute people because of their beliefs and practices. Often many forget this simple truth. If banning a religious movement may appear to be a simple administrative act, the real consequence is the oppression of families, devotees and often innocent individuals whose only crime is to have a different vision of the world and spirituality. Often these minorities suffer ostracism, prison or even torture in the name of the ‘security’ and ‘unity’ of the majority. Yet it is these acts of discrimination or, in some countries, overt violence, which often bring a country towards conflict and may even open the door to fanaticism. Continue reading