Religion is a powerful weapon and someone with cruel intentions can turn it into a vicious tool anytime. At the core of Buddhism there is the philosophy of ‘Ahimsa’ or non-violence. The Buddhist monks have always been looked up to as peace loving religious preachers. Recent events in Burma have surprised the world due the involvement of Buddhist monks in provoking sectarian violence. A very deep rooted Buddhist nationalist movement has started in India. This movement has been instigated and led by a group of Buddhist priests. It is surprising how these peace loving monks have changed their opinions and have become aggressive against the minority Muslim sect living in Burma.
The monk who is leading the other priests is U Wirathu. He has been provoking his fellow monks for quite some time now to start taking actions against the Muslims, who according to him are threatening the existence of the Buddhists in Burma. His sermons are inciting the monks to take action and come out of their inactive state. This monk, instigating the followers of Buddhism, looks like a young boy and has a boyish, disarming grin. At 46 his young and apparently innocent face has earned him the title of bin Laden of Burma. Looking at him no one will doubt that he has violence in mind. According to Wirathu the Muslims are a growing threat for not just the Buddhists but they pose a problem to the people of Burma.
It seems that Wirathu started spreading the seeds of sectarian violence from Rakhine, infamous for its many years’ long social unrest regarding sectarian differences. The so-called nationalist movement in Burma has taken the lives of hundreds of Muslims. The houses of Muslims have been burnt down and their children have been orphaned. Such violence in a country like Burma has affected the lives of the common Burmese people adversely. Britain has raised questions regarding the role that the Burmese president, Thein Sein, is playing in all this. He has been asked to take up a sterner stand against the communal violence.
When asked, Wirathu coolly denies having anything to do with all this and says that the entire communal disturbance has been caused by the 5% Muslim population of Burma. He calls them ‘mad dogs’ and ‘troublemakers’. The interior walls of his monastery are full of pictures that depict Muslim violence on the Buddhist people and other communal sects. Along with Buddhist monks from southern Burma he started a 969 movement against the Muslims in Burma. The principles of this movement include not selling them lands and not buying anything from them. This way Wirathu is trying to subjugate the Muslims and corner them economically so that they are ready to do as the monks please.