The narrative is this.
In northwestern Myanmar (a country formerly known as Burma), there exists a community of Rohingya Muslims who have historically been denied citizenship. In the northern Rhakine townships, the Rohingan people comprised between 80-90% of the population in 2015. The official stance of the Myanmanese government for the entirety of time immemorial has been that the Rohingan population has always been the product of illegal immigration from Bangladesh.
Reports have surfaced concerning the poor treatment of Rohingyan people in the Myanmanese area, including cases of torture and forced labor. Because of the sudden focus by mainstream media on the topic, many believe that this scenario is recent, or in some way unprecedented. However, a brief survey of general Buddhist-Muslim and Burmese-Bangladeshi relations will help contextualize the entire situation.
Firstly, one must understand the Buddhist doctrine of non-violence. Buddhism is known globally for its staunchly anti-violent philosophy. The ethical concept of Ahimsa is a core tenant of Buddhist philosophy which forbids killing on the basis of killers being possible reborn into a hellish realm. The Buddha himself forbade any form of violence together with hostile thoughts, stating at one point that “even if thieves carve you limb from limb with a double-handed saw, if you make your mind hostile you are not following my teaching.
Thus, if Buddhists are rising to an occasion with violence, one must assume that it is not without a crucially important reason. There is a spirit of hard nationalism in the recesses of Buddhism. Buddhism is an ancient religion, with its roots spanning from the 6th century to the present day. As an extremely old way of life, it is a system that has seen the rise and fall of many peoples, cults, and social structures.
Before the birth of the Prophet Muhammed, Buddhism enjoyed relatively large appraisal in areas such as Afghanistan, eastern Iran, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan. Quickly after the advent of Muhammedanism, however, Arab Muslims began to rule over these lands during the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, granting to Buddhists – lay and clerical alike – dhimmi status. As citizens with dhimmi status, the Buddhist population was made to pay a discriminatory tax in order to continue practicing their religion. Because of this pressure, many Buddhist practitioners merely converted to Islam.
Between the 8th and 13th centuries, many Indian Buddhist monasteries were destroyed by the Islamic trail of conquest through Indian territories. Because of this horrific toll, many Buddhists either were absorbed by Hinduism or converted to Islam during this period.
Buddhism is all too familiar with the hand of Islam, which has historically conquered populations that adhered to the peaceful way of life. Unlike Christianity’s just war theory, Buddhism has never developed a philosophy that supports violence in any form, and as such its adherents have been forced to disassociate themselves with the Buddhist faith when choosing to resort to violence against oppressors.
Myanmanese Buddhism is a system that seeks to self-determine itself by establishing a unified population and a discernable national identity. Islam has historically resented this philosophy, and has taken violent steps to overturn it in favor of a violently enforced caliphate. There has been no Buddhist Crusade, no organized Buddhist attempt to dismantle Islam, and no war declared to obliterate any particular demographic. Rather, there has simply been the agitated reaction by Buddhist nationalists towards multiculturalism, which they interpret as a step towards cultural decline.
Buddhists understand that the Islamic aspect of the Crusades has not ended, and that the Islamic takeover of non-Islamic lands will not be done with swords and the enforcement of caliphates, but by the Islamic reliance of progressive leftism and cultural Marxism. The Buddhists of Myanmar wish to exist as a monolithic people, and the Islamic presence in their territory is a threat to that goal. Whereas Islam has historically oppressed non-Muslims in Muslim territories throughout history, Buddhism has recently put its foot down and decided to stand up for nationalist values.
The shaming tactics invoked by the regressive left cannot stop the Myanmanese Buddhists, as the monks and laity are too wise and entrenched in history and spirituality to be dissuaded by political correctness. Islam, to the Myanmanese people, is a threat to the identity of Myanmar, and must be resisted lest the traditional Buddhist be consumed by the doctrines of Muhammed and the cultural heritage of Marx.