Burma Bans Time Magazine’s ‘Buddhist Terror’ Issue
Harsh voices of intolerance have become almost daily news from Burma.
The July 1st international edition of Time magazine has added fuel to the fire with a cover photo of the fundamentalist Burmese monk Wirathu, calling him “The Face of Buddhist Terror.”
Protesters took to the streets this weekend, and President Thein Sein officially banned the magazine, citing concern about the “recurrence of religious and racial conflict.” The president’s office released a statement that:
“The cover story of the magazine, depicting a few individuals who are acting contrary to most of Myanmar, is creating misconceptions about Buddhism, a religion practiced by the majority of Myanmar’s population.”
The president added, regarding Wirathu and his fundamentalist 969 movement, that 969 “is just a symbol of peace” and Wirathu is “a son of Lord Buddha.”
Some observers have worried, as the Wall Street Journal reports this week, that this media messaging skirmish, with the government’s tacit support for Wirathu’s movement, will only make things worse—for Burma’s Muslims as well as the country as a whole.
Religious and ethnic confrontation in Burma challenge cherished ideas of Buddhism and religious fellowship. For those of us inside and outside Burma who have long supported the nonviolent movement for democracy and human rights, this is a disappointing fact.