While not being a practising Buddhist myself, I have admiration for many of the core precepts of Buddhism such as compassion, reciprocity, discernment, and reincarnation, and it seemed, as I heard about it, extraordinary that Buddhists who live by peace are attacking Muslims through arson and murder: Muslim violence, sadly, has been known before but I am unused to hearing of Buddhists being described as terrorists – though of course all religions have been responsible for much devastation in the world throughout history: or have they?
My mistaken reaction of judgement over events in Burma was because my mind was caught by the labels that were pinned to two clashing ethnic groups which happened to have different religious beliefs. The spark for the attacks was human outrage at the murder of a (Buddhist) woman, from which retaliation by a minority and officially stateless (Muslim) group followed: it has developed into a tense situation which is causing international concern as it threatens to spread into other parts of Burma, but Buddhism and Islam per se are not responsible for it.
Religion has been blamed for so much, and often what is done in the name of religion is for power and human, selfish ends, justifying abuse and exonerating the perpetrator from blame. Imagine how it would be, in Burma if, in the context of the new violence, all references to religion were removed by observers and those involved; it would change the tenor dramatically and while it may not stop the instability, it might make it more real, and also more accountable.]]>