An international panel of experts concluded in Budapest last week that the anti-Muslim rhetoric in Sri Lanka is similar to that of Myanmar where hundreds of Rohingya Muslims are reported to have perished in deadly anti-Muslim clashes.
Held at the Central European University’s School of Public policy in Budapest, the panel on “Buddhist Fury: violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka and Myanmar” sought to answer questions on conflict solution, develop policy ideas and share news on the current situation in both countries, with a purpose of releasing a policy paper to help deal with anti-Muslim hatred.
“Although no one has died in anti-Muslim violence in Sri Lanka, speakers at the March 6 discussion said that the language of hatred is similar to that in Myanmar where hundreds of Rohingya Muslims are reported to have lost their lives,” a Turkish news site reported.
The report said that the audience heard that although Muslims make up just 9 percent of Sri Lanka’s population, Buddhists, who number around 70 percent, appear to fear an increase in their population – fears which have also been expressed in Myanmar.
“But whereas violence in Myanmar has led to hundreds of deaths, attacks in Sri Lanka have been limited to mosques and the removal of Muslim women’s headscarves, with a few people injured,” the report on the panel said.
The conclusions come days afterForeign Policy Magazine published Colombo Telegraph’s picture of Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara receiving a gift from Burma’s hardline monk Ashin Wirathu who founded the 969 movement, under the title “This is the modern axis of Buddhist Hate”
Buddhist mobs in Myanmar have killed more than 200 Muslims and forced more than 150,000 people, mostly Muslims, from their homes. Many Rohingya Muslims now live in large camps in Sittwe, the capital of the Rakhine State in Western Myanmar.
Wirathu has denied any role in the violence, but critics have said that his anti-Muslim preaching has helped to inspire it. Like Bodu Bala Sena, he has criticized the halal slaughter method, and told Buddhists not to do business with Muslims, urging them to seize their land.