Buddhist-Muslim Violence in Burma

The L.A. Times reports:

The unrest was sparked Friday following last month’s rape and murder of a Buddhist girl, allegedly by three Muslims, and the lynching of 10 Muslims in retaliation. The weekend saw rival Muslim and Buddhist mobs burn houses. The government said about 4,100 people have lost their homes, many taking refuge in schools and Buddhist monasteries.

Analysts said that while the problem surfaced over the past week, the underlying conditions have developed over decades. A longstanding narrative of the military junta that had ruled the country for more than half a century was the preeminence of the ethnic Burman majority, which makes up about 68% of the population of Myanmar, also known as Burma.

“The rest, the non-Burmans, were pretty much persecuted,” said Jan Zalewski, a London-based South Asia analyst with IHS Global Insight, a forecasting firm….

As is common in such situations, it’s not clear to what extent the crimes reflect religious ideology and to what extent they are ethnic clashes where the ethnic groups are defined partly by religion. Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer.

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