by Poppy McPherson
Recent weeks, however, have brought a surge in nationalist activity. Scores rallied outside the US embassy in Yangon last month to demand diplomats stop using the word Rohingya to describe millions of Muslims confined to internal displacement camps and villages in western Myanmar. Nationalists insist the group are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
The few public comments Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) has given on the issue have not been encouraging.
Aung San Suu Kyi reportedly instructed the new US ambassador not to use the term “Rohingya”. The new minister for religion, the former general Thura Aung Ko, recently called Muslims and Hindus “associate citizens”.
The fact that nationalist rhetoric has gone unchallenged – and has in some cases been echoed – by the new government has left some wondering what place the country’s minorities have in its future.
Some people have this idea that Buddhism is always a really peaceful and tolerant religion. Unfortunately the ideal that people in the west hold of Buddhism does not always fit actual Buddhists.