Friday, October 04, 2013

Blog #4: In Myanmar, Revival of Attacks on Muslims

According to the accounts taken on Wednesday October 3rd, the violence between Muslims and Buddhists that occurred in Myanmar this week, has left six dead with numerous homes that were burned down. The violent acts ironically happened just a few hours before President Thein Sein was scheduled to arrive to "cool religious tensions". Although both the Muslims and the Buddhists suffered casualties, the six people that were found dead were all Muslim. Anti-Muslim violence surfaced last year and has been spreading across the country like wildfire ever since. The main difference between this week's attacks and the attacks that have occurred in the past is that this week's violence happened in "well-established Muslim neighborhoods father south that have existed side by side with Buddhists for generations".

Religious violence is not uncommon in the current century as well as in history. All around the world different religions often choose violence in an attempt to settle their differences and show that their religion should reign supreme. The use of violence is being used once again by the Buddhists in Myanmar this week. This article on the violence between the Muslims and Buddhists raises questions because it fails to address the question of why exactly these violence acts happened. The obvious reason would be that Buddhists and Muslims simply do not get along due to their religious differences. However, there must be a specific reason as to why this week's attacks happened where and when they did. The article says that the attacks happened in a very peculiar place, a place where the police thought religious violence would never occur. Yet, religious violence did occur in Muslim neighborhoods where Buddhists and Muslims have co-existed for multiple generations. The article also says that the attacks occurred hours before President Thein Sein was supposed to arrive. Reading this article a question has to be raised as to how do these two factors contributed to the violent attacks? How is it possible that in a place where Muslims and Buddhists have lived together with no past acts of violence to suddenly be faced with six deaths and the burning of homes and is the arrival of President Thein Sein a cause of the violent acts? It seems that the scheduled arrival of the President and the attacks that occurred just a few hours before the President's arrival is no coincidence. According to the article, President Sein was supposed arrive in order to "cool religious tensions and criticize extremism". Perhaps there is more to the President's arrival than the article says. One can wonder that maybe there was a more definite reason to President Sein's arrival that affected the Buddhists and the Muslims that the Buddhists did not like which is what caused the sudden violent uproar in an otherwise peaceful neighborhood.

It does not seem that religious violence is coming to an end anytime soon. Stabbings, bombs, shootings and the burning of homes and buildings continue on In fact, religious violence seems to be getting worse and is even affecting neighborhoods where people with different religious backgrounds have co-existed for generations. A solution to peace must be found if these violent acts are to ever stop. Compassion, forgiveness and understanding are crucial in the attempt to stop religious violence all over the world.

Catherine Choi

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