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Burma: “You Cannot Sleep Next to a Mad Dog”

  • Peter Lehr
Chapter

Abstract

As regards the second case study on Myanmar/Burma, extremist monk Ashin Wirathu seems to dominate the headlines at the moment—just as pacifist monk U Gambira and the monks allied to the Saffron Revolution of 2007 dominated the headlines then. In order to explain this dramatic change from peaceful resistance to a nationalist-chauvinist militancy targeting Muslims, the relationship between the Sangha as the religious actor and the various Burmese governments as the political one will be explored. It will be shown that Buddhist militancy is nothing new in Burma, and that Buddhist monks were actively involved in armed resistance against the British colonial system prior to independence as well as against various insurgencies of non-Buddhist ethnic groups challenging the dominating Burmans. After having thus examined the history of extremist Buddhism, the discussion will then focus on current anti-Muslim, and especially anti-Rohingya, speeches of Ashin Wirathu and like-minded monks. Again, the focus will be on who do the monks target, what do they want, and, most importantly, how do they justify and legitimize the resort to violence?

Keywords

Burmans (Bamar) Muslims Anti-colonialism Shoe Issue of 1919 Indo-Burmese Riots of 1938 Rohingya Ma Ba Tha 969 Movement Ashin Wirathu 

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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Lehr
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International RelationsUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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