Ma Ba Tha and similar groups of extremist monks in Myanmar could face resistance after a government official finally rebuked their brand of nationalism. It took just one dismissive comment from the chief minister of Yangon to seemingly deflate Ma Ba Tha. The Buddhist nationalist organisation has become known for its provocative segregation policies and… Read more »
Myanmar: What now for Women and Minorities?
Will Aung San Suu Kyi dare to engage in a direct confrontation with religious nationalism and insist that the new parliament reconsider Myanmar’s laws on race and religion? Doing so could cost her dearly. Sexual violence Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) has been in a continuous state of civil war since its foundation as a… Read more »
Are Myanmar’s Monks Hindering Democratization?
The upcoming general elections in Myanmar raise the question of religion’s role in democratisation processes. Previously Buddhism has been an important force in favour of democracy, but in the 2015 election campaign strong Buddhist forces are supporting the military-aligned Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP). This is their democratic right, but it may hinder further… Read more »
The Rise of Political Buddhism in Myanmar
Narrow Burman-Buddhist nationalism remains the country’s biggest barrier to sustainable political reform. The Organization for the Protection of Race and Religion, known by the Burmese acronym Ma Ba Tha, is gaining ground in Myanmar. It has also been receiving increased international attention—last month for its proposal to ban Muslim headscarves in public schools. The organization… Read more »
Endangered Co-Existence: Buddhist-Muslim Friction in Asia
Disputes about everything from holy sites to ritual animal slaughter and compulsory family planning are causing dangerous tensions between Buddhists and Muslims in countries such as Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Friction between Buddhists and Muslims in Southeast Asia is putting pressure on a centuries-long tradition of religious co-existence, tolerance and shared cultural values. Hate speech,… Read more »
The Buddhist Face of Peace: Buddhist Peace Initiatives in Times of Religious Intolerance
Buddhist radicalism is on the rise in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Buddhist anti-Muslim rhetoric, violence against Muslim minorities and hate speech against UN officials are now global media sensations. Less known is the growing number of religious peace initiatives, by both Muslims and Buddhists, to address the situation. Recently, practitioners and scholars met… Read more »
Buddhist Nationalism Threatens Myanmar’s Democratic Transition
It’s election year in Myanmar, the big test for the country’s aspiring democratic transition. Among the spirited national debates there are four controversial pieces of legislation currently under consideration in Myanmar’s Assembly of the Union parliament (the Pyidaungsu hluttaw). These reportedly aim to protect race and religion. But in truth, the bills represent a setback… Read more »