March 10, 2008

Buddhist News and More, March 10, 2008

[Now with two updates! And one amended comment (#2.)]

Ibrahim Gambari's latest visit to Burma is over without achieving conclusive results other than meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi twice. Burma said No thanks to having U.N. or international oversight for its May constitutional referendum. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, president of the Philippines, stepped up and criticized the junta on this.

Thailand's problems in its restive south with insurgent Muslims have left 3,000 dead in four years of conflict. To confront this issue, senior Buddhist monks arrived in Cairo to speak with Sheikh Muhammad Sayyed Tantawi, the leading Sunni Muslim in Egypt, on the issue. Sheikh Tentawi visited Thailand last year.

A flowerpot bomb kills a man in blood-drenched Sri Lanka.

Can meditation save your life? This Chinese construction worker says it worked for him.

Tibetan activists begin their march from India to Tibet to protest the Olympics and Beijing's Tibet policy. HH the DL denounced China for gross human rights violations. [But there's a movement to get HH to carry the torch. Worst Horse showed the way to this one.] Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of his flight from Tibet. [Uprising Day link here, thanks to Danny Fisher.]

Two editorial observations from the Times: Our exploding prison population and humiliation TV.

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Marcus's picture

No, my apologies for jumping the gun. Looking back, the fault lies less in your writing than in my overly critical reading. My apologies.

Marcus

Philip Ryan's picture

Marcus: I'll give you a hint. He often wears a cowboy hat, lives in Washington D.C. and has some problems with Muslims himself. I realize in re-reading it that it may have sounded like I was criticizing Christian religious leaders rather than political leaders. Sorry about that. And thanks for the links!

Marcus's picture

Philip,

You say: "some Christian leaders might learn from the actions of the Thai delegation".

I wonder which Christian leaders you mean?

Do you mean the Pope, who is hosting major Catholic-Islamic talks later this year:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/7276213.stm

Or perhaps protestant church leaders who more than just talk, who are (in the UK) actually funding Islamic payer space:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article3412244.ece

It seems to me that the main Christian churches are making huge efforts to dialogue with and even support Islam (the UK army is currently building a mosque in Afghanistan).

So, again, which leaders do you mean? Or was it just a cheap shot at Christianity for some reason?

Marcus

Marcus's picture

"Ironically, the Philippine govt. has persecuted Muslims in the south of Phillipines AS WELL"

Hi Gerald - are you suggesting that the Muslims in the South of Thailand are persecuted? In what way?

From my reading of the events there since I first lived in Thailand, it would seem that it's the Muslim fanatics that are doing the persecuting.

Sawing off people's heads on the roadside and the deliberate targetting of schoolteachers as targets seems to me a thousand times worse than anything the Thai government has done.

You suggest reading about SE Asian colonial history but not which acts of colonisation. Thailand was never colonised. Although it would seem that certain sections of the Islamic movement are attempting to do so right now.

Unfortunately, there is a powerful and growing wing in the Islamic faith that would like to eradicate Buddhism just as past centuries of islam eradicated it from it's earliest lands. The philosophy that blew up the Bamyan Buddhas is also at work in the minds of those who behead Thai government officials by the roadside.

And I don't think there can be any justification for such brutality.

Marcus

Gerald Ford's picture

Ironically, the Philippine govt. has persecuted Muslims in the south of Phillipines as well (Mindanao), so it's not just Thailand. I use to study under Professor Mary Callahan at the UW, who is now one of the resident Burma experts in the world. She told us that Muslims in the Philippines have endured a lot under the Catholic majority, so she was not surprised (though did not support) their rebellion.

Sorry Marcus, but it's not Islamic Fundamentalism at work, though people gravitate toward that under difficult conditions. Read about SE Asian colonial history, and you'll see the situation is more complicated than the modern Al-Qaeda movement and such.

Gerald Ford's picture

So the Muslim terrorism in the South of Thailand IS about religion then?

No, I don't think so personally. I just like seeing Muslim/Buddhist leaders meet. You see so little of that.

Marcus's picture

Thai monks go to Egypt.

So the Muslim terrorism in the South of Thailand IS about religion then?

I can't count the number of times people have said that the terrorism in Thailand is not about religion but about some kind of territorial/ethnic dispute. Rubbish, of course it's fuelled by fundamentalist Islam and I applaud these Thai monks for having the common sense to see that and try to address it.

I wish them well.

Philip Ryan's picture

Agreed! Too bad the Thailand conflict gets so little press -- some Christian (political) leaders might learn from the actions of the Thai delegation.

[Note: This comment has been amended to include the "political" caveat, since before it understandably caused some confusion. Sorry about that.]

Gerald Ford's picture

Seeing direct talks between Muslim and Buddhist leaders in the Middle East is pretty noteworthy, and very promising. :)