Is Religious Self-Defense 'Hate'?

(AP Photo/Suvra Kanti Das)

The conflict between the Buddhist majority in Myanmar (Burma) and the Muslim ethnic minority known as the Rohingya is intensifying, and the Buddhists are winning, forcing the Muslims across the border into Bangladesh or into boats bound for Malaysia, both Islamic lands. Naturally, the western media takes a very dim view of this, as per this article in the Wall Street Journal:

Buddhist Leader Spreads Hatred of Muslims in Myanmar

The Venerable Wirathu hitched up his orange robes, stepped up onto a stage on a recent Sunday and tapped the microphone. “What kind of people are these Muslims?” he barked as a crowd of 1,000 in this small town east of Yangon cheered him on. “Do they eat rice through their backsides and excrete through their mouths? They are the opposite of everything in nature.”

Ven. Wirathu, the abbot of the Masoeyein monastery in Mandalay, has taken a leading role in spreading the anti-Muslim sentiment among Myanmar’s Buddhist majority that has underpinned the army’s campaign against the ethnic Rohingya minority. Since the military released Ven. Wirathu from prison in 2012 after he had served nine years of a 25-year sentence for inciting religious riots, he has traveled and taken to YouTube and Facebook to whip up resentment against the stateless group, alongside other less prominent Buddhist hard-liners.

In recent weeks, the army and allied militias have attacked Rohingya villages, driving hundreds of thousands of people to seek refuge in neighboring Bangladesh in a campaign that Bangladesh authorities say has left 3,000 people dead.

Naturally, not a word on why any of this happening, or what has roused the Buddhists — the Buddhists! — to such intensity. The Rohingya are viewed as cultural and religious aliens — illegal immigrants — from Bangladesh, who are engaged in fomenting an Islamic insurgency against Myanmar. You can read a timeline of the conflict here, then make up your own mind about who’s in the right.