Contemporary Buddhism and anti-Muslim violence

Free online Article:
Anti-Muslim Buddhist Nationalism in Burma and Sri Lanka: Religious Violence and Globalized Imaginaries of Endangered Identities

In Burma, monks are promoting a new marriage law restricting interfaith marriages. They have used hateful anti-Muslim rhetoric and claimed that Buddhism, language, culture and the national identity is endangered. Since 2012, Burma has seen widespread anti-Muslim riots resulting in burned mosques and casualties instigated by the 969 movement. Burmese monks study in Sri Lanka where the Buda Bala Sena, (‘Buddhist Power Force’) movement runs a fierce anti-Muslim and anti-Christian campaign. There is a clear connection between the monks in these former British colonies where Buddhism was part of the nationalist anti-colonial struggle. Buddhism is still part of ongoing identity politics.

Today’s xenophobic Buddhist nationalism seems to contain a combination of the traditional Buddhist cosmological imaginary of a decline in the doctrine—a dark age of moral chaos, and a modern globalized imaginary of other religions—Islam and Christianity in particular—attempting to wipe out Buddhism.

The article discusses how these religious imaginaries and monks are engaged in nationalist politics and absorb globally transmitted ideas of danger to religion and identity; and how these imaginaries are translated and localized to a modern context. This seems to be part of a globalized ‘ontological scare’ in Burma and Sri Lanka. The movements are generating xenophobic and fundamentalist views and using religion as a medium of violence.

Mikael Gravers is Associate Professor in anthropology and ethnography, Institute of Culture and Society, Aarhus University, Denmark

See full text of article here 

Categories: Extremism, Islam, Islamophobia

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