Rise of violent Buddhist rhetoric in Asia defies stereotypes


Buddhism may be touted in the West as an inherently peaceful philosophy, but a surge in violent rhetoric from small but increasingly influential groups of hardline monks in parts of Asia is upending the religion’s tolerant image.

Buddhist mobs in Sri Lanka last week led anti-Muslim riots that left at least three dead and more than 200 Muslim-owned establishments in ruins, just the latest bout of communal violence there stoked by Buddhist nationalists.

In Myanmar, ultra-nationalist monks led by firebrand preacher Wirathu have poured vitriol on the country’s small Muslim population, cheering a military crackdown forcing nearly 700,000 Rohingya into Bangladesh.

And in neighbouring Thailand, a prominent monk found himself in hot water for calling on followers to burn down mosques.

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