Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Anti Muslim Riots in Burma

Burma is hitting the headlines with stories of "Buddhist" violence.

"The BBC has obtained police video showing officers standing by while Buddhist rioters attacked minority Muslims in the town of Meiktila."

To describe these rioters as Buddhists is nonsensical. To become a Buddhist one takes refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma (the path) and the Sangha (the community), which commits one to following the path toward enlightenment. There are many levels of commitment, from being a lay person to joining a monastery. The most basic level of commitment is to attempt to adhere to the five precepts:

Abstaining from the destruction of life.

Abstaining from taking that which is not given.

Abstaining from sexual misconduct.

Abstaining from falsehood.

Abstaining from intoxicants that cloud the mind and cause carelessness.

"So the question is, where there is violence associated with religion, is religion promoting the violence, or is religion being co-opted to excuse violence that would have happened anyway? I think you have to look at individual circumstances. Certainly, sometimes religions, and religious institutions, initiate and genuinely condone violence. And sometimes a religion becomes infected by the social pathologies of its culture and serves as an unwitting host for an agenda of violence.  And if that particular host hadn't been handy, another would have served just as well." In other words -- correlation ain't causation.
         Barbara O'Brien

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