Preaching Hate

13 images Created 28 Jul 2015

A small group of extremist Buddhist monks in Mawlamyine launched an anti-Muslim campaign known as the "969 Movement" a couple of years after the Myanmar government began its nascent reform process in 2011.

In Buddhism in Myanmar, the three numbers 969 represent the "three crown jewels": the nine attributes of the Buddha; six attributes of his teachings; and nine attributes of the monastic order known as the Sangha. And the original idea behind the anti-Muslim campaign was for Buddhist shops to hang the numbers from their stores to support a nationwide boycott of Islamic-owned businesses.

Eventually, more extremist Buddhist monks joined the campaign and many so-called Buddhists torched Muslim shops, mosques and homes. Thein Sein's government turned a blind eye as sectarian violence erupted against the Muslim minority across the country.

One of the group's leaders, Ashin Wirathu, preached about the dangers of a Muslim conspiracy trying to convert the country to Islam by marrying Buddhist women. Wirathu was jailed for inciting riots in 2003 when 11 Muslims died after a mosque was torched. He was released from prison in 2012.
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