At the edges of Southeast Asia sit countries with an Islamic minority. And each of them deal with this particular group in different ways. Thailand and the Philippines handle it one way. And Burma’s (Myanmar’s) Buddhist leaders have handled it in another fashion:
Brightly-coloured posters and stickers bearing the number “969” are popping up in cities all over Burma. These look innocuous enough at first glance. However, “969” actually denotes an anti-Islam campaign led by hardliner Buddhist monks. Burmese Muslims say it has stirred up hatred and paranoia, resulting in a string of bloody anti-Muslim riots across the country over the past weeks.
The three digits ‘969’ originally refer to the Buddha’s “three jewels” , but they are now being used as a brand name for a nationalist, anti-Muslim campaign led by a prominent monk based in Mandalay. Wirathu, who likes to refer to himself as the “Burmese Bin Laden”, was jailed in 2003 for inciting riots against Muslims, but was released as part of a general amnesty in 2012. Since then, he’s spearheaded the fast-growing ‘969’ movement, making numerous speeches calling on Buddhists to “buy 969” and boycott Muslim-owned stores.
As is usual with such articles, there are gems in the comments:
-Intolerance in any shape or form should not be tolerated. But bear in mind what is provoking this anger: Many Muslims support a movement to settle in and control the southern portions of Southeast Asian countries. Perhaps the folks in Myanmar do not want bombings, death and destruction that radical Muslims have inflicted on the Thais and the Filipinos.
-Moderate Muslims have revealed themselves as a feckless lot. By refusing to criticise and isolate radical Muslims, moderate Muslims are seen as giving their tacit approval to Islamic terrorists. It is only right that cowardly moderate Muslims incur the wrath of their neighbours.
-As I understand it, the situation originated with Muslim destruction of Buddhist Temples and archeology sites. Then flared when a Muslim shop owner cheated a Buddhist customer, and laughed at the couple when the Muslims broke an item the Buddhists brought in. I’m in sympathy with the Buddhists. Enough is enough.
-Islam. Live by the sword, die by the sword. The Umma won’t happen.
There goes that stereotype of Buddhists. . .