For the third time this year, anti-Muslim rioting has broken out in Myanmar, this time in the northeastern city of Lashio. Sparked by an argument at a gas station, mobs of radical Buddhists on Tuesday burned down several buildings belonging to Muslims, including an orphanage and a mosque.
This is the third consecutive month to see violence against Muslims in the Southeast Asian nation, and if that wasn’t cause enough for concern, anti-Muslim sentiment seems to be spreading. Conflicts occurred in Meiktila and Oakkan in central Myanmar this year, in addition to systematic violence by regime forces and Buddhist rioters against the Rohingya, a Muslim minority in northern Myanmar.
The existence of radical Buddhists in Myanmar is nothing new: Anti-junta protests in 2007 were led by Buddhist monks, including several public acts of self-immolation. However, the current violence stands in contrast to those earlier incidents, which were directed at achieving government reform. The recent targeting of Muslims, who comprise about 4 percent of the Myanmar population and are spread throughout the country, seems to be an act of scapegoating for the nation’s poor economic stature even after governmental reforms in 2011.
—Posted by Christian Neumeister
Myanmar’s government has called for calm after mobs burned down a Muslim orphanage, a mosque and shops during a new eruption of religious violence in the northeastern Shan state.
Authorities imposed a curfew late on Tuesday in Lashio, about 700km northeast of Yangon, after a mob of 200 local residents surrounded a local police station demanding they hand over a Muslim detainee.
Nay Win, 48, a Muslim from a nearby township, was arrested after allegedly setting fire to Aye Aye Win, 24, a Shan Buddhist, earlier in the day after the two had an altercation at a petrol station, Lashio police said.
The woman was admitted to hospital.
Al-Jazeera video screenshot