Published — Saturday 21 July 2012
Last update 10 September 2012 5:45 pm
To most Saudis, Burma was almost an unknown country, until the news of massacre of Rohingya Muslims came out. In their vacation and on the street, Saudis run across men in orange attire, who are soft spoken and appear to be gentle and peaceful, with pamphlets and flyers in their hands about Buddhism, giving them away to pedestrians.
These Buddhists appear as if they cannot hurt a fly, while the pictures coming out from Burma are very graphic and heart wrenching. Children being grilled naked and alive; corpses amputated with hatchets; and dead bodies of men, women and children, young and old scattered everywhere.
This may indicate to some Saudis that killing thousands of Muslims in such a manner is not only a violent character of the heartless dictatorship that rules Myanmar, but also a quality of the Buddhist theocratic ideology. In other words, Buddhism could be seen by some people as a pretentious religion that appears peaceful, but in fact this religion disguises hateful, violent Buddhists in orange sheets.
Burma is in the limelight and has become the focus of attention of Saudis. Most Saudis have a vague knowledge of the geographical whereabouts of this country, and many were surprised to know that majority of the 56 million Burmese are Buddhists.
The religious break-up of the population is as follows: 53.42 million Buddhists, 2.98 million Christians, 2.27 million Muslims, 0.3 million Hindus and 0.79 million of those who believe in other religions. But why Rohingya Muslims are the only religious group repeatedly persecuted throughout Burma's history.
Those previous and current massacres of Muslims in Burma are documented by UN agencies, and it was reported that the Rohingya Muslims are the most persecuted minority in the world. Despite these grave human rights violations neither the UN nor the international community took quick and tangible actions to stop them.
Being a minority, these Muslims stood against all odds over the centuries, specifically since 1550 AD until the present time. They were repeatedly massacred at the hands of the majority Buddhist population. Nonetheless, every time after repression they bounce back to their previous successes.
This killing of Muslims has been systematic and institutionalized throughout the history of Burma. These Muslims are Rohingyas, and they comprise different ethnic groups, including Indians, Bangladeshis, Chinese, Arabs, Persians and even Burmese. Despite their limited numbers, their greatest sin is that they are hardworking and so have achieved success in trade and education.
We call on the honorable Dalai Lama to interfere with the Myanmar government to stop the massacres of Muslims at the hands of Buddhists. No religion in the world approves of atrocities against the Burmese Muslims, and Buddhism is among the religions that also does not approve of such an act.
Muslims want the Dalai Lama to speak out against those atrocities to show the entire world in general, and the Muslim world in particular that Buddhism condemns these grave human rights violations against Muslims.
We need Dalai Lama in the spirit of this blessed month of Ramadan to send a message of love, peace, and comfort to the victims of those horrible incidents in Burma, their families and loved ones.
The world needs Dalai Lama to speak out.
- Dr. Abdulrahman Al-Zuhayyan is a Saudi academician based in Riyadh. This article is exclusive to Arab News.