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Ashin Wirathu, the other face of Buddhism


Time Magazine Cover dedicated to Wirathu

Not only detachment from materialism an pacifism, not only monks who prefer to set themselves on fire rather than react – that’s why Chinese invasion was so easy in Tibet. Even Buddhism has its own temporal ways, which fit in the Western and monotheistic tradition: violence included.

“Buddhism is not an ecception to fundamentalist threats, which define every religious tradition”, says Riccardo Venturini, president of the Italian Centre of Buddhist Culture of Rome, interviewed by Vatican Insider. “Violence is legitimated for actions that are supposed to be for good, such as the Crusades of islamic fanaticism, where identitary pulses take over spiritual traditions”. In the 30’s and 40’s, continues Venturini, “Japanese Zen Buddhism agreed with the invasion of China and nevere regretted militarism”.

Tibet itself, as reported by the English expert Sam van Schaik, has a “normal” history of wars, absolute power, conspiracies and whatever relates to regular events that happened through the centuries in Europe. Mao Zedong, during Chinese conquer, talks about tortures like squeezing the cranium to make the eyeballs pop out. And it was 1950.

Sam van Schaik

Right, none of this horrors was perpetuated on large scale, like colonialism, holocausts, 9/11 & terrorism, Palestina occupation – to quote crimes of each religion – but Sri Lanka and Myanmar also have their own intolerant curriculum. It’s obvious, or should be, that episodes don’t define a confession, a population, an ideal. They just represent who commits those actions. To predigest Reza Aslan, “that’s a Sri Lanka and Myanmar problem, not of Buddhism”.

We know almost everything about Isis and Al Qaeda, not enough about the “Asian Bin Laden”, nickname of Ashin Wirathu (but Bin Laden, as Saudi, WAS actually Asian), Burmese anti-islamic spiritual leader. Is a matter of comunication – many members of the Islamic State studied these strategies in Europe and America? The lack of attention due to the absence of oil and other resources? Normal disinterest in something so far away from us?

Anti-islamic monks demostrating

Born in 1968, Wirathu lives the contradiction of considering himself a man of peace who defines “enemies” muslim people. His detractors say that his speeches instigate prosecutions against islamic minority. On June 20th of 2013, Wirathu gained the Time Magazine cover, mentioned as “the face of Buddhist terror”. “You can be full of kindness and love”, states Wirathu, “but you can’t sleep near a crazy dog”, he is just worried of violence in neighbours like Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Pakistan. What if it happend in Myanmar (which only has 4% of muslims)? In the meantime, he opposes to interracial marriages and muslim free trade market.

A Buddhist mot tells “a man is not Chosen for killing living beings. He is Chosen because he abstains from hurting all living beings”. It’s a common destiny of all messages of peace of every religion: to get ignored.



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