Tags / Sectarian Violence
There is renewed tension between Buddhists and Muslims in parts of Burma. In March 2014 targeted violence, towards the Muslim minority in Myanmar, claimed the 45 lives and led to many homes being burnt to the ground.
In the Burmese streets, stickers sporting the numbers “969” are seen on taxis, shop windows, betel nut carts. These three ominous numbers are the symbol of a fast-rising Buddhist pride movement, presenting itself as a return to Buddhist roots and the teachings of the Lord.
But, in the new Myanmar, 969 is actually a vehicle of anti-Muslim hatred and Buddhist brainwashing.
“Muslims are fundamentally bad. Mohammed allows them to kill any creature. Islam is a religion of thieves, they do not want peace”, declares Ashin Wirathu the saffron-robed monk nicknamed the “Burmese Bin Laden.”
Far from the iconic images of the 2007 “Saffron Revolution”, popular Buddhist monks like Wirathu are travelling the country, preaching in front of thousands, urging Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses, to avoid marrying them, hiring them or to sell property to them. The 969 movement is appealing to a deep anti‐Muslim resentment implanted in Buddhist minds by fifty years of military propaganda. Burmese activist Maung Zarni recently confessed in a blog post: “Like millions of my fellow Burmese Buddhists, I grew up as a proud racist. For much of my life growing in the heartland of Burma, Mandalay, I mistook what I came to understand years later as racism to be the patriotism of Burmese Buddhists”.
By depicting a Myanmar on the verge of an Islamist invasion, the 969 movement is creating a framework for the wave of Islamophobic violence that has swept through Myanmar in the last months. In March, the bloodiest clashes to-date claimed the lives of forty-five people in the town of Meiktila. “At night, we sleep terribly. We are wondering when they will be coming. It is dark, it is scary. Our ears pay attention to every little noise”, said a Muslim resident of the city. Throughout the country the Muslim communities are living in the constant fear of new attacks.
Currently, 969 has seen little resistance from local or international governments. The movement is currently drafting a law proposal that would ban interfaith marriage, and four 969 monks have been working on a curriculum aimed at educating lay people and children about the ins and outs of protecting Buddhism from Islam. Set to take place in a Sunday school manner, the monks hope this new form of education will save their faith in this majority Buddhist nation but what implications will this have on cross-religious relationships? And will it instigate more religious violence?
Afraid of alienating the Buddhist vote for the 2015 elections, the democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi is staying silent on this subject. Many see, behind 969 and the religious riots, the hand of hardliners from the army trying to destroy the fragile change Myanmar is going through as the country stumbles towards democracy.
June 12, 2014
Gop Jalil, Mosul, Iraq
Images of Peshmerga soldiers at a checkpoint after they gained controlled the village of Gop Jalil located on Mosul-Irbil road. The new checkpoint is located only 100m from ISIL frontlines.
The Central African Republic (CAR) has experienced decades of political unrest. Violence has spiralled since the 2013, when the mostly Muslim Seleka rebels alliance
ousted President Francois Bozize. Their abuses against the majority Christian population sparked a wave of revenge attacks that led to massacres across the country.
Violence in the north east of the country and in the capital Bangui has forced hundreds of thousands of people to flee their homes. UNHCR estimates that over 2000 people have been killed since December 2013. More than 600 000 people have been internally displaced and some 100 000 have fled to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Republic of the Congo, Chad and Cameroon.
According to the UNHCR, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is now hosting nearly 60,000 refugees from Central African Republic. Half of them are spread across four refugee camps, while the others are living with host families.
An estimated 9000 people live in the Mole refugee camp, located on the banks of the Oubagui river, 35 kilometres from the nearest big town, Zongo, in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Nearly 10,000 refugees, both Muslims and Christians, have found refuge in the Boyabu Camp.
This photo shows Anbaa Mosa Coptic Church in Minya, which was set ablaze on August 14.
A Christian worman walking behind building belonging to a Christian charity organization that was torched by unknown assailants in the central Egyptian city of Minya earlier this month. Egypt's Christians are living in fear after a string of attacks against churches, schools and shops.
A photo that shows the Amir Tadros Coptic Church in Al-Minya which are totally burned by ousted President Mohamed Morsi supporters .
Amir Tadros Coptic Church in Al-Minya was burned on August 14. Egypt's Christians are living in fear after a string of attacks against churches, businesses and homes, carried out by angry mobs. Violence erupted after police violently dispersed Morsi supporters from two Cairo squares, Nahda and Rabaa.
On Saturday June 1st, Egyptian courts adjourned on the trial of 33 defendants for their involvement in the violence that took place in the town of Al-Khosous, north of Cairo, last April. The violence claimed the lives of seven people, and later sparked further sectarian violence. The trial will resume July 6, 2013.
The case was postponed to hear witnesses for the prosecution and the judge refused the defense’s request to release the defendants on bail.
The public prosecution has accused the defendants of murder, illegal possession of weapons, damage to public and private property, inciting panic and possessing Molotov cocktails.
Though the case is being tried by the Banha Criminal Court, the trial was moved to New Cairo Criminal Court in an attempt to ensure the safety of the accused.
The sectarian violence in Al-Khosous broke out between two families, who happen to be Muslim and Christian in Al-Khosous, north of Cairo after Christian children allegedly painted offensive drawings on the wall of an Islamic institute.
The defense lawyers and relatives of the defendants argue that they are innocent, demanding the formation of a new fact-finding committee.
SOUNDBITE 1 (Arabic) – Mohamed Ghareeb, defense lawyer of number of the defendants:
“We would like to say that the state security apparatus still has the same policies like the former regime and they still arrested people from their homes. The defendants were arrested after four or five days of the incident. They do not have any relations with the clashes and they found nothing with them. We ask God to reveal the truth. God willing, they will be announced innocent soon.”
SOUNDBITE 2 (Arabic) – Brother of one of the defendants:
“We hope that the authorities form a new fact-finding committee to discover the truth and I accept that my brother being tried if they proved that he is not innocent. There must be a transparency in the investigations.”
The clashes resulted in the killing of a Christian by a Muslim, prompting some Muslim residents to seek retribution. The violence resulted in the deaths of six Christians and one Muslim.
The funeral for four of the Christians was held at St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral two days after the violence in Al-Khosous broke out. Following the funeral, unidentified men attacked mourners outside the cathedral, which prompted rock throwing. Some eyewitnesses reported gunshots.
On the other hand, earlier on Thursday north Cairo court ordered the release of seven people who had been arrested for suspected involvement in clashes outside St Mark’s Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo.
The suspects have been released from police custody with bail set at LE 2000 each. Prosecutors, meanwhile, have appealed the release order.