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Burmese Buddhist Attacks on Muslims
MRIC 2014/15

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Burmese Buddhist Attacks on Muslims

"Burmese Buddhist Attacks on Muslims"

Tuesday, September 23, 2014 | 12:30-1:30 p.m. 
Whitewater Room, Idaho Commons

Nick Gier - Philosophy (emeritus)


For centuries, Burmese Buddhists lived in relative harmony with the Muslims among them. All of this changed during British colonial times, when Indian administrators replaced an efficient Burmese civil service and thousands of Indian laborers were brought in to work in the rice fields and on the docks. Christian missionaries also introduced the idea of a pure religion, and a Buddhist fundamentalism arose. The Venerable Ashin Wirathu, abbot of one of Burma’s largest monasteries, has been preaching incendiary sermons against the Burma’s Muslim minority. Wirathu is calling for a boycott of Muslim businesses and a ban on interfaith marriages to preserve “racial purity.” Wirathu has inspired armed Buddhists to kill Muslims and burn their businesses and mosques.


Nick Gier taught in the UI Philosophy Department from 1972 to 2003. He was coordinator of Religious Studies from 1980 to 2003 and a senior fellow in the Martin Institute for Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution from 1990 to 2000. He has published five books and more than 50 journal articles and book chapters. His fourth book, The Virtue of Non-Violence: from Gautama to Gandhi , was published by SUNY Press in 2004. The presentation is taken from chapter four of Gier’s new book, The Origins of Religious Violence: An Asian Perspective, published by Lexington Books.

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