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Islam is the religion of peace, yet in modern times, the word "terrorism" is almost always associated with the image of Islam, especially in the Western world.

Ironically, another religion that is also known for its emphasis on peace, is now facing the same controversy - Buddhism.

A faith that teaches non-violence has had many of its monks within Myanmar encouraging violence against the Muslims of Rohingya

Time Magazine previously referred to one monk, Ashin Wirathu, as the "Burmese Bin Laden". 

Two religions, both of which teach peace as a foundation of belief, find themselves at odds with one another.

The Face Of Buddhist Terror
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The first principle of Buddhism is to abstain from killing, why then are the Muslims of Rohingya an exception to that? 

Perhaps terrorism has less to do with religion than it does with politics. A notion Muslims know all too well.

Myanmar is undergoing a long road to transition, from a dictatorship into a Democracy.

What many don't know about this phase in a country's journey, is that it is the most dangerous one. Newly democratic states are often not peaceful and far from liberal.

The latter is because the prerequisites required for a democratic political system to work are frequently absent: Weak central institutions, combined with a dash of highly active political participation rooted in dissatisfaction and a touch of ethnic/religious divisions.

This usually sets the ground for a disastrous recipe.

A recipe the Arab world has mastered through experience from Lebanon, Iraq, and Libya's "democratic" transitions. All of which led to civil unrest and terrorist breeding grounds.

In Myanmar, these missing political elements have given people like Wirathu room to stretch their muscles.

As the spiritual leader of the 969 Buddhist Nationalist movement, he advocates opposition to what he perceives as Islam’s radical expansion within Myanmar.

He is an abbot in the New Maesoeyin Monastery. There, he leads more than 60 monks and has an extended influence over roughly 2,500 followers.

Outside of his monastery, he frequently travels the country giving sermons to Burmese. He encourages them to avoid doing business with Muslims and ignore their communities.

Many human rights activists, including international human rights observers, believe him to be a central influencer behind the current violence against the Rohingya Muslims in the state of Rakhine.

The "Burmese Bin Laden"

In September of 2013, Wirathu was recorded describing his perception of Muslims to BBC News correspondent Jonah Fisher:

“Muslims are only well behaved when they are weak...When they are strong they are like a wolf or a jackal, in large packs, they hunt down other animals," Wirathu said.

The Burmese Bin Laden Wirathu
Source: Voa News

Dr Muang Zarni, a Burmese human rights activist and research fellow at the London School of Economics explained to Vice News what the 969 movement advocates:

“Their intent is genocidal in the sense that the Muslims of Burma — all of them, including the ethnically Burmese — are considered leeches in our society the way the Jews were considered leeches and bloodsuckers during the Third Reich when Nazism was taking root. The 969 movement and its leading spokespersons openly call for attacks against Muslims of Burma—not just the Rohingyas in western Burma who were incorrectly framed as illegal migrants from Bangladesh, but all Muslims from Burma. Buddhist people who try to help Muslims or buy groceries from Muslim businesses are either beaten up or intimidated or ostracized by other Buddhists," said Dr Muang.

The political figure, democratic activist, and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Aung San Suu Kyi, has been largely silent on the issue. 

In the past, Time Magazine featured her on numerous covers, portraying her as a "fighter" for democracy and a "beacon of freedom". 

The question remains, where is her fight for the rights of Muslims within her country?

Aung San Suu Kyi isn't only facing criticism over her silence on the ethnic cleansing happening right on her front door, but according to GQ, has been condemned for her response from both sides of the spectrum. 

The 969 movement also criticises her for being "friendly to Muslims". 

Does Aung care more about her political image than fundamental human rights?

The Dalai Lama has denounced Burma’s anti-Muslim violence, stating in his speech at the University of Maryland in 2003, that conflict serves political interests, not spiritual ones.

“Really, killing people in the name of religion is unthinkable,” said the Dalai Lama.

Perhaps the conclusion of this problem is that if the world truly wants to address terrorism, it must step away from the religious cloaks it wears, and look into the root political causes of it.