Burma killings: Keep religion out of it!

Published: August 16, 2012

No one should be allowed to ignite a flame by bringing religion into a scenario, and bashing it, when it can easily be resolved by keeping religion out of it. PHOTO: AFP

If you’re active on Facebook or Twitter, you’re sure to have witnessed the ongoing outrage of a number of people over the persecution of the Rohingya Muslims in Burma at the hands of the Rakhine Buddhists.

Agreed, our country is not exactly one to be proud of when it comes to basic human rights, but expressing our concern over wrongdoings, whenever they happen, isn’t hypocrisy, it is our right. However, those in the social sphere – who, in the availability of an internet connection – believe they have been blessed with knowledge of the world are always ready to share their little pearls of wisdom with the rest of us.

There are those who have claimed that the concern is pointless as the killings have been sensationalised and pictures being posed are a fake account of what is actually happening in Burma. And then, on the flip side, are those who have taken to morphing these same pictures, or attacking the religion as a form of protest. I suppose they are under an impression that doing this will cement their concern for the Rohingya Muslims. To each their own. However, I believe that defaming the religion the perpetrators subscribe to is unreasonable.

To all those who are saying “I thought Budhistst were a peaceful bunch,” I would like to say that it is wrong to stereotype. The actions of a handful shouldn’t malign an entire religion.

But Buddhism, in all fairness, isn’t the exclusive member of this club. There are always individuals who are eager to judge an entire creed based only on the acts of an individual or a group of individuals.

After the Mumbai attacks, Islam was put in the line of fire due to the alleged involvement of some Muslim units in the attacks – even though Islam does not support such barbaric attacks in any way or form. Or for example, the footage of a girl being shot, under the ‘honour killing’ umbrella, Kabul, released recently invited a fairly large amount of people who abused Islam and its teachings online – even though executions as such are condemned by the religion.

Similarly, the Quran burning controversy initiated by Pastor Terry Jones instigated a barrage of accusations against Christianity and the church, through pamphlets alleging that their priests were involved in sexually abusing children.

I could go on citing examples, but the point I want to make is that bringing up religion and then taking it a step further by abusing that religion only leads to a vicious cycle of expletives used for others’ religions, and little else.

As Muslims, we should be aware of Islamic teachings that clearly state that God does not appreciate those who abuse any religion. You may be an atheist, or may hate all religions – that’s your discretion and it ought to be respected. But no one should be allowed to ignite a flame by bringing maligning someone’s belief, and bashing it, when it can easily be resolved by keeping religion out of it.

Unfortunately, this trait is not only restricted to the people; our media also takes glee in religion bashing. These media outlets, all over the world including our very own, reek of religious bias while reporting their stories. It’s not rare to see newspapers flaunting headlines as alluring and morally ambiguous as “Christian woman burnt to death”, or “Fight erupts between Sikh and Muslim youth”, even in places where religion is not even remotely involved.

With these subliminal links to religion, what they don’t realise is that they are jeopardising an already delicate relationship and further aggravating the situation. Other than that, there are certain channels, with the likes of CNN etc, that would rather have you believe that killing people from a certain religion is more preferable than killing those from another.

What we need to understand is that no religion is bad. Some people might want you to believe otherwise, but no religion has in its basic teachings ideas of killing, abduction or torture; these acts are in fact strongly condemned.

When Iqbal said, ‘Mazhab nahen sikhata aapas mein bair rakhna’ (Religion doesn’t teach you to nurture enmities), he meant it well enough. If there’s a fault with some people, it’s them you should point out not the religion they practice.

I protest against the killings of the Rohingya community with all my being, but I refuse to indulge in this baseless blame-game; I refuse to say a word against their religion.

I don’t have that right neither does anyone else.

As Islamic teachings prescribe; for you is your religion and for me is my religion. If nothing else, all I ask of you is for you to be true to your own religion.

Read more by Asif here or follow him on Twitter @asifnz

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz

Asif Nawaz is a doctor from Abbottabad who's either traveling or writing while not procrastinating. He tweets as @asifnz (twitter.com/asifnz)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Waleed

    A good read.Recommend

  • Biswajit Sahu

    In the days when it’s becoming so easy to spread hatred between religions, communities and countries, you are a ray of hope. It’s so scary to see how people are giving wrong pictures to incidents and others are reacting to it so fast without using their own judgement. I hope more and more people think like you.Recommend

  • mariam

    I personally don’t hold buddhism responsible, however the fact remains that the government who adhere to this religion are permitting these atrocities to continue. Religion does play a major role in this because the Rohinga are being treated this way because they are MUSLIM. So your headline is not doing much justice to the facts. People are reacting this way on social media outlets because there is zero coverage on maistream media, why? Because they are muslim and perhaps because to my knowledge Burma has no oil or that compared to the arab countries. I despise the people who are doing this, but I will not say anything negative about Buddhism.Recommend


    Mariam, have u not seen the videos?? how they are burning Muslims alive ? & do u know how many Muslim woman were rapped???? & how many children(even below 1 yr) were killed ??

    Why are speaking without knowing the things??? since begining Rohingas are the most oprressed people in the world. BBC/UN has given reports long before. Why media maintained criminal silence on this??? Where were the people who speaks about peace(Suu ki)???Wolrd is silent on this massacre. Insha Allah Burma will pay for everything…They think its all over…its not over…. Insha Allah, World will see how will be the END.Recommend

  • Aung

    Totally Agreed.Recommend

  • sherrry


  • Anon

    The only reason liberals are saying to keep religion out of it is because they dont want to give in to the widely accepted discourse that Muslims are being targetted by the Buddhists simply for being Muslims. Yes there are ethnic tensions tied into the conflict, but the larger issue has to do with the fact that the Buddhists want to purify their land of Muslims, and there have been allegations of every sought of religious harassment, from mosques being burnt down, to pigs heads being thrown into the houses. SOO, the rohingya issue is as much religious as is ethnic subtracting either is not going to simply the issue. These poor people are not suicide bombers, or extremists, infact they happen to be some of the weakest Muslim communities in the world. And that itself makes them a fair target, so the majority who want to cleanse their holy lands.Recommend

  • mahmood

    i just want to say that ALLHA was watching each and every this and INSHA ALLHA they were distroy wo are doing all this thing AMMINRecommend

  • http://syedowais.blogspot.com/ Syed Owais Mukhtar

    you are right, we dont have right to say something to their religion, but its a fact that only Muslims are being killed in BurmaRecommend

  • Blinddude

    Great piece. Yeah i’ve come across loads of posts on facebook and a couple of my friends are always commenting no em’ like lunatics. To some extent they look like muslims (mostly because they’re wearing those ‘topi’ we wear in mosques, i’m not trying to stereotype). So as a whole i’m still confused if the killings are actually real or not. I mean if they were i’m pretty sure local tv channels like geo or ajtv or international like bbc or cnn, would’ve covered the news. Now don’t go around saying thats because they are being controlled by jewish lobbies, because thats the typical BS we pakistanis come up with :p Recommend

  • Hopeless Pakistani

    As I read the article I had this ray of hope, and as I read the comment by Mariam (and its likes), the ray died……. Recommend

  • Big Rizvi

    Please, we are not living in the times of the crusades. We Muslims are not made of gold that the whole world is conspiring against us. We are no different than ANY other human being. Be it a Jew, Hindu, Parsi, Christian, etc.Recommend

  • Abdul Javeed

    Many people doesn’t work have to do, just sitting and arguing on each others comments, those people who commenting wrong will feel only when it happens with them. No hard feelings, whoever it could be, Muslim or Hindu or Buddhists, they are humans, they have rights to live there own life, whoever have lost there family, they knows what is going on with them. We are not here to judge them,
    but this sentence to all whoever concerned(commentors) here on this webpage:
    “You guys just sit and chill out yourself, coz you are very much happy, enjoying and comforting life. If it happens to you, you wont be able to think your past days of your..”Recommend

  • http://noweb abzal

    as you all know bhuddists are killing muslim people .

    but this is not the matter of muslim its a matter about human beings Recommend

  • Jawed Islam

    This is not the time for any muslim to comment or reply the comment. We must not. This is the time to protest against Burmese government and draw the attention of so called UNO. Why are we sleeping if the killings don’t stop in another 24 hours we must roll up our sleeves against Burmese staying in India. Let every country know our strength. Recommend

  • zaeema

    A good pieceRecommend

  • Nishant

    it is a small riot, but all those photographs being shown are not real

    majority of them are fake. but since so much ummaiyat is in pakis that they are blinded by it.

    i think what is happening in Syria is far more serious than this

    but then what happened in gilgit balitstan with those shia men being dragged out from a bus and murdered should concern the paki people more
    after all isnt that ethnic cleansing in your own country

    burma is a military dictatorship and well it is not your country

    so worry about your own people Recommend

  • Babar

    these type of budhism will pay the huge cost in all over the world…Dear frnds dont leave them now we have to choose do or dieRecommend

  • Rita

    I don’t know how many of you really know about this case…
    I totally agreed that we have to keep religion out of it.
    If they are killed because of being muslim then all the muslim who are living in the country should involve but they didn’t. why???
    Because they knew exactly what happened, and they knew who started unlike those muslim from outside of the country.
    June 8, friday, in the city, very close to bangladesh, they started the violence after gathering in front of the mosque. If you saw the video how they came to the city and how they entered to buddhism’s house, then you will never willing to speak why buddhism killed Muslim.
    The Rakhine people, they have to do it to defend, to protect and all because they are also human being…
    pls understand.Recommend

  • Sam

    Non-Muslims are being persecuted and attacked in Pakistan – why blame others? Hindus are leaving, Christians are attacked, Shias are butchered to keep Pakistan as a “pure Muslim country”Recommend

  • Vikram

    @mahmood: ‘i just want to say that ALLHA was watching each and every this and INSHA ALLHA they were distroy wo are doing all this thing AMMIN”

    Is Allah also watching killings in Pakistan. In last 2-3 days 24 Shia Muslims were killed by Sunni Muslims in Pakistan and 38 Muslims were killed by a suicide bomber in Afghanistan. Pakistanis killed 3 million people in East Pakistan (Bangladesh).Recommend

  • Vikram

    @mariam: Religion also plays a big role in killings that happen in Pakistan. 24 Shias were shot dead in Pakistan on Thursday.Recommend

  • Vikram

    @Anon: Burma has invited OIC representatives to come to Burma and see everything for themselves. You should worry about Pakis killing Pakis in mosques, funerals and markets. Do you know how many Shia Muslims have been killed by Sunni Muslims in 2012? How many Sunnis have been killed by Sunnis 2012?Recommend

  • AtheistBurmese

    well…….. you are one in a million. I agree with you but I guess the issue has been overblown and I am afraid the damage has been done.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Sheikh

    Ok if you say so we will full fill your command but others have right to bash our religion islam in any case. happy now liberalRecommend

  • Sana

    Some people do not have any good thing to do in their lyf, so they are just spreading these rumours, these kind of people should be punished and hanged till death , they cannot understand that some pakis are playing this game to generate the hatred..

    First, check the history u idoitsRecommend

  • Imad Uddin

    Wonderful,sensible and most importantly conciliatory.
    Religions must not be blamed but it is also a fact that humans discriminate on the basis of religions and cause injustice due to stereotyping. Good read!Recommend

  • http://yahoo.com Abid

    Supposedly the catalyst for this violence against Muslims was the raping of a young Buddhist girl by two Muslim men. From what I understand, the violence between the Buddhist and the Muslims has been prevalent for a while now but the incident with the Buddhist girl has turned a spark into an all out wild fire. I really believe that this catastrophe was inevitable, because I feel the Buddhist were just waiting for a reason to start this genocide or ‘ethnic cleansing’ of the Muslim community. I am not trying to point fingers though, that’s just how I feel and is my opinion whether you agree to it or not that’s up to you. But at this point I don’t want to further escalate a situation that is already pure abomination and instead start trying to figure out solutions for it as best as you and I can. The more people we can get onboard for this cause the better, we can’t really do much about it as individuals but as a unit I’m sure we can have some kind of positive effect. Support websites that are taking donations but just do a little research to make sure they are legit and the funds will be going where they are needed and please try to inform others and spread the word every little bit helps. Thank you.Recommend

  • Milestogo

    God does not appreciate the wrong religions.Recommend

  • http://tribune.com.pk p r sharma

    @ mariam : ” the Rohinga are being treated this way because they are MUSLIM”
    Burna has a Muslim population of approx. 3 lakhs in addition to the Rohingya Muslims(2.5 lakhs)
    living in other places/ towns of Burma. this Muslim s have never been harassed /discriminated. Rohingyas are not the citizens of Burma. the trouble started when some members of the Rohingyas raped a Rakkhine girl and also involved in dousing the huts of Rakkhine in village having majority of Rohingya population. these are facts and are verifiable. If you commit such crimes the natural reaction will be ferocious by the majority Population. this has led to the killings of 170 approx. Rohingyas ( the problem is elsewhere and the Muslim community of the world ( particularly Pakistan has painted the incident with religious colour as Pakistan is obsessed with religion)
    Unfortunately Rohingyas are suffering as the Burmese dictator/military rule stripped the citizenship of Rohingyas by an enactment in the year 1982 and Bangladesh is also unwilling to take them back ( Rohingyas speak Bangla with an accent related to Chittagong (Bangladesh)Recommend


    @Milestogo: agreee…thats why Islam is spreading every where..in US alone 30,000 converts to ISLAM every year & in UK alone 5000+ converts to ISLAM every year…(including toney blair’s sister-in-law Lauren Booth)…..Islam spread is 235%+ from past 10 ys…..its is min 10 times bigger than any other religions….God doesnt not support wrong religions thts why all others are spreading as much as Islam is doing now….Recommend

  • shoaib

    i just want to say when muslims going to wake up and help burma muslims, plz wake up and do something, jago mohammed ki ummatiyo jago, muslims are cutting like vegetables,plz do some thing if u r true muslims.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/britishmuslims Mohammed Abbasi

    That was a good read thanksRecommend

  • yarzar

    @Syed Owais Mukhtar:
    Illegal migrants Bengali Muslims are killing local Burmese and Rakhine too. Don’t be stupid.Recommend

  • Deb;India

    @Asif Nawaz

    A voice of reason and compassion.
    My respect, sir. Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    Which video are you talking about. Muslims started burning houses. The Rakhines retaliated. Burning houses is not the same as killing people. No children were killed. No proven cases of rapes except for the first case when 3 Rohingyas raped and brutally killed a Rakhine girl. This horrific crime angered the civilised society. Rohingya never learned lessons.

    By the way your Syriam brothers, sisters and children are decimated on a daily basis. The Muslim media is very quiet on this front.Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    Syrians are chopping Syrians in hundreds.Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    Don’t you know the the Rahines are the targets in many villages where the Rohingya people are the majority population?Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    @Syed Owais Mukhtar:
    It is not true. Rakhines are also killed and the brutal rape and murder of a Rakhine girl by 3 Rohingya youths started this sequence of atrocities on both sides.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    Muslims cannot co-exist with anyone, thats a factRecommend

  • Rahula

    Muslim countries never allow a single Buddha statue or a Buddhist temple. Most intolerant faith on earth. On the other hand they enjoy the tolerence of othersRecommend

  • Atheist

    You say dont bring religion into this, but isnt religion in a way responsible for much violence?Recommend

  • Qasim

    I appreciate the distinct stand you’ve taken on this issue!!Recommend

  • http://www.twitter.com/asifnz Asif Nawaz

    It’s overwhelming to see this mostly positive response. Thank you people for understanding. Hope we make a better, safer world together! God bless! Recommend

  • Ahsan Zeb

    i wish evry pakstani rather evry human being could hav the same thnkng as ur ds article. evry relgion preaches it follwrs to gv highst value to life and feelngs of other beings. violence, tyranny and brutality is condemned in evry religion.thus u r vry mch right in sayng that v shd respct religious beliefs of othersRecommend

  • Ahsan Zeb

    so watevr is happng in burma v cant blame BUDHISM for that as v cant blame Islam wn taliban kill innocnt ppls. Recommend

  • Aiza Arif.

    An article worth reading..! An eyeopener..!Recommend


    @AtheistBurmese: What were you doing when 1000s of Muslims were being killed/rapped?? Since you are from Burma, you must be knowing the situation very well. From your name you sounds an atheist. Do you feel it is good on human grounds?? hundreds of mosques were destroyed by Bhuddhits ..do they feel it is the END??? They did a GRAVE MISTAKE by doing these actions. & it will not stop here. For a Muslim, Religion(it has everything explained in it parents/loyalty/universal brotherhood/all) comes first …rest all next. Indeed this was the attack on Muslims by saying they are illegal immigrants…..What is ur comment on this?????Recommend


    @PyiChitMyoChit: have u checked on the youtube ?? type “BURMA MUSLIM KILLINGS”….you can see how they are burnt alive and how people are watching …….which proofs are you talking about??? have u visited Burma to conclude on this??? or you relay on Media to show the proofs so that u can decide while you were having a coffee cup in ur hand??? Remember onething, what will b ur reaction if the same thing happen with you and someone in the other part of the world says ther is no proof for that as they just didnt get any info??

    Killing of Innocences is a HARAM in ISLAM & will have to face SERIOUS PUNISHMENTS in this world and hereafter…No matter who is doing it ….either it could be a Muslim or NON MUSLIM

    Quran Surah 5 Verse No 32 says that ” If you kill an innocent human, it is as though you have killed the entire humanity. and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole humanity”.

    DONT BLAME THE RELIGION …….Islam is the perfect …yes every religion have black sheep…..Recommend


    @Rahula: Dont blame the religion with your foolish analysis…

    “Let there be no compulsion in religion. Truth has been made clear from error. Whoever rejects false worship and believes in Allah has grasped the most trustworthy handhold that never breaks. And Allah hears and knows all things.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 256]

    You are concerned about that STONES which can cause either HARM or BENEFIT? why are you not talking about the 1000s people who are killed in Burma???


  • curious

    A.Today you recommend- Keep Religion out of Rohingya Killings.

    B.Tomorrow you will say– Keep Religion out of Ahmadi Killings.

    C.Day after you will insist- Keep Religion out of Blasphemy Murders.

    Man you will rob us of our reason for living.Recommend

  • Gulzaman

    its a great violence against islam so why we muslims stay keep quite we muslims should help our brothers bt perhaps now we are not true muslims a lot of muslims killed burnt and muslims women are rapped but we stay keep quite is this islam teaches us no brothers we should raise our voice against this great kiilings . . . . MAY ALLAH HELPS US TOGETHER WE CAN TOGETHER WE WIN . . . . .

    List item

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    Which group is your Muslim brotherhood?


    Or these?


    They are all Myanmar Muslims, one group is the devil and the other is True Muslim.Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    These are fabrications. The real things are here.



    They are all Myanmar Muslims, one group is the devil and the other is True Muslim.Recommend


    @PyiChitMyoChit: I think you have spoken enough without using ur brains..

    Take a look into this video how they are burning Muslims alive. WHY ARE YOU TRYING TO HIDE IT FROM THE WORLD???

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LRDARUhobYk Recommend

  • H

    A country which is known for its treatment towards minorities,human rights; preaching another country about protecting its minorities is akin to a whore telling the virtues of chastity.Recommend

  • Shahzad

    I am dis-agree with the headline and I think that it is not justified. There is no doubt that MUSLIMS are being killed in Myanmar mercilessly and we have seen some REAL snaps of that massacre in which hundreds of dead bodies are spread everywhere and budhists can also be seen and recognized by their specific clothes, Vehicles containing identification marks can also be seen. Some photos which are shared on social media are irrelevant but these ARE NOT fake as many here trying to mis-lead others.Recommend

  • Shahzad

    Many Rohigyan muslims are escaped and succeeded in reaching Karachi and they are here to tell the story within. Some of them tell that most of their family members are burnt after killing them by budhist gangs and security forces together. So I do think that this is offence against muslims in Myanmar and the world and mainstream media is silent JUST because the victims are muslims.Recommend

  • Moha

    It is 78 not 1000s .

    Been told that Muslims in Burma are innocent ? Well you might be surprise to know that the general population in Burma have been terrorized for some time before that:

    “Buthidaung, Burma — Some remote Buddhist villages in southern Buthidaung Township, 80 miles north of Sittwe, are under threat of damage due to the rampant Muslim robbers in the area, report local people widely.

    A villager in Kwe Gomaw Village said, “The authority is not protecting our village right now. So many families are thinking of moving to more safe places like downtown Buthidaung, where many army battalions are stationed.”

    The village of Kwe Gomaw is located near Nyung Chaung Nasaka outpost in southern Buthidaung Township, and the village was hit by dacoits on 1 January, 2011.

    “At 12 pm on 1 January, around 30 armed Muslim robbers surrounded our village. After that the robbers entered our village and robbed property from all the houses one by one. When a villager refused to give over his property, a robber beat him with his gun and injured his head. Properties worth 3 million kyat were taken by the robbers,” the villager said.

    After the robbers left the village, they hit another Buddhist village in the area, Thein Daung Byint, where many people of the Dynet tribes are living.

    During the second attack, the village chairman’s wife was severely wounded when some of the robbers opened fire on villagers who were trying to fight back against them. The woman is now hospitalized in Buthidaung in critical condition, although her condition is improving.

    A villager from Thein Daung Byint said, “We are now afraid to live in our village because we have no safety, despite that our village is located in inner Buthidaung Township, not in the border area. Moreover, when we informed the Nasaka officers about the robber, the officers beat us because were unable to defend ourselves against the robbers. Now we are facing many difficulties living in our village.”

    During December, 2010, a large robbery also took place in Shwet Bying Village under Zaydi Bying circle in Rathidaung Township. The villagers lost 30 million kyat of property. The robbery was also committed by a group of armed Muslim dacoits.

    The Muslim robbers have never robbed any Muslim villages in the area, having so far only struck Buddhist villages in Buthidaung Township. Because of this, many ordinary citizens, including those in the Muslim community, are anxious that the robberies might foment conflict and lead to riots among the people in the area.”Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    Now you realized that the reports of Muslim killings in Rakhine State were highly exaggerated in loose media coverage. There were fatalities on both sides but the total was under 100 which is understandable in rural areas in a border state where Law and Order could not be maintained immediately due to logistics. Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    How many Muslims have been killed by other Muslims in 2012 so far. This year figure will certainly out-number those new recruits. At this rate, the world will be an undesirable place to live and won’t survive long! Recommend

  • PyiChitMyoChit

    Absolute Lie: still talking about 1000s killed in Burma. Time to swallow your saliva back. Lesson to learn. Don’t be a Hypocrite. You wrote DONT JUDGE BEFORE KNOWING THE FACTSRecommend


    @Rahula: when a muslim killed someone(even though it is to protect himself), the media shouts so that eveyrone in the world can listen.. when it is onto muslims why there is no news????? why double standards???? I wnt to split on those double standards & the people who are supporting them. & which facts are your JUDGEMENT based??? what do u kno about Islam?? come for a open discussion. I will make you undestand wht is truth and wht is FALSEHOOD..u can add me on chat……Recommend




    @PyiChitMyoChit : INSHA ALLAH, everyone will see how it will end in burma…..Recommend