Published on Friday, 21 June 2013 16:53
Myanmar web surfers were furious over the July issue of Time magazine that portrayed Myanmar Buddhist monk U Wirathu on a cover and labeled as “the face of the Buddhist terror”. The publication was criticized by many in the public and among Facebook users. Most felt that it was an insult to Buddhism. Based on public opinions, the comments have been made as follow:
Kyaw Min Swe, Chief Editor of the Voice Daily
I am not happy with Time’s cover story. It is inappropriate to label a person for religion. How much evidence do they have to prove that U Wirathu has been involved in violence? I do not agree with this matter. It doesn’t matter whether I like him or not. It could impact on Myanmar and its religion how the Time’s represent that news. I think there is something behind the story. Neither does it meet journalistic ethic because it is using religion and violence together to damage a person’ dignity. It is absolutely not required to do that so. I don’t think I need to mention that Time is a world famous magazine.
Dr. Ashin Dhamma Piyaka, Information in charge of Buddha Sasana Ovada Cariya Acceptance and Preliminary Religious Talks
Myanmar has more than 500,000 Buddhist monks. Blame should not be put on the entire Buddhism. It is one sided story. History has it that Buddhism is a peaceful religion. Monks are committed to doing public wellbeing as well as for the Sasana. The religion has been and will be peaceful.
Ashin Dayventa Bhivamsa, Sitagu
Scientist Einstein once said about Buddhism, if there was a religion that can bring the peace to world, it must be the Buddhism. So I do think I have to mention Buddhism as a peaceful religion. As monks are following the peaceful religion, they are peacefully minded. There has been no violence made by monks. But they were killed and they were terrorized. The weapon of the monks is tolerance. The Time magazine has accused U Wirathu as a terrorist. Sitagu Sayadaw (Venerable monk Sitagu) said that U Wirathu is a person who desires to have peace. However the foreign media criticizes him.
Social activist Myint Myint Khin Pe
I was asked in an interview by French journalist whether most Myanmar people including me accept the violence or not. I replied that I never accept any violence. The image of Buddhism will be protected by its own religion. To protect the Buddhism, every Buddhist should behave well in time. If not, Myanmar could be recognized as a terrorist Buddhist country.
Hanthawaddy U Win Tin, the Veteran Journalist
It is terrible to use the word “Buddhist terror”. It is widely said that the international community is siding with the Muslim communities. “969” has appeared among the Buddhists as well. It cannot be denied that there are some extremists among the Muslims. There have been killings even among themselves. Now there could have been some Buddhist extremists like 969 activists or U Wirathu. It is not a good sign. Conflicts can emerge among the people. However, they must be treated and solved as conflicts, and in order to do that rule of law is needed to be strongly enforced. Now, the religious elements are added to the problems instead of solving them. Those who want to back track from the current political situation are taking advantage of the situation and make the matters worse. It is terrible that the influential Time magazine wrote about the events in Myanmar by portraying Buddhists as bad people. I am not judging whether it is good or bad but the extent of the danger is bigger now. The response of U Wirathu and his followers and those who are against them will accelerate. So I think both sides will become more and more aggressive.
Dr. Myat Thu, Managing Directo of Asia Taw Win
U Wirathu’s love for his religion is too much. He has not insulted other religions so the statement of TIME Magazine is totally wrong. My opinion is the same as Sitagu Sayadaw. When the Daily Eleven interviewed U Wirathu, he said that he is really surprised by the fact that he is dubbed a Buddhist terrorist.
The covers of the Time magazine circulated in different regions
“I won’t be shattered by attacking me like this. What I want to say is about comparing me with a Bin Laden of Myanmar. Bin Laden’s hands were bloodied. Mine are really free from impurity. Their example is like referring a lion to a fox. It was a very rude comparison. What we are doing now is for preventive measures. There is no means of attacking. America’s intrusion into Iraq was for its national security. We are enacting laws for the safeguard of our nation and our race. Does it mean that we are extremists? We gave sermons to love and cherish our own religion and people. Do they mean we are terrorists? I have a video file about an interview with me in order to check if something fishy is going on. I am now planning to post the video of the interview with TIME Magazine on the internet. They didn’t ask what they did and nor my answers. The photo they used made me look terrible,” he said.
Wunna Shwe of Islamic Religious Council (Headquarters)
We don’t like a person’s doing comparing to one religion. Similarly, in Islam, I don’t accept a person’s doing comparing a religion.
Dr. Than Htut Aung, the CEO of the Eleven Media
“Let me be clear, I don’t agree with the opinions of U Wirathu. We have different views. But neither do I accept Time Magazine's unfair portrayal. For a Buddhist monk, he will always be regarded as a monk until he breaks the rules of the Sangha. I know it is not easy to become a patron monk at the Masoeyein Monastery.”
“I do not agree with religious involvement in the affairs of the judiciary, administration or legislation. Neither do I agree with Buddhist extremism or the anti-Muslim sentiments being spread by a minority intent on jeopardizing their social and economic affairs,” he said
But as a journalist, I think the Time Magazine's criticism is unfair and harmful to our religion and Sasana. Such acts can cause unnecessary conflict and will only serve to disrupt our fragile democratic transition. So I categorically oppose Time's story, Dr Than Htut Aung said.
U Wirathu has been accused of inciting continuing clashes that broke out in Myanmar while '969' Buddhist groups are also accused of instigating the clashes.
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