Extremists misuse Buddhism to incite hatred against Muslims not just in Myanmar, but also Sri Lanka and Thailand. There are growing concerns about how this might affect people’s view of this pacifist religion.
Sri Lanka, another Buddhist majority country, has seen several Buddhist monks endorse religious hatred. In April last year, some joined the storming of a mosque claiming it had been built on sacred Buddhist land. Earlier, a nearby Muslim shrine was demolished by a crowd led by a monk.
In Sri Lanka, one extremist Buddhist group (Bodu Bala Sena) has the support of Defense Minister Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the brother of President Mahinda Rajapaksa. In Myanmar, one of the key people spreading hatred reportedly works in the office of President Thein Sein.