Opinion: Rohingya and Western Media; A Balanced Narrative By Rasheed Abubakar

 

The war on terror (or the semantic concoction that it actually is) will never be won if the world fails to look beyond Islam and the Muslims for its aetiology. Terrorists exist everywhere – in all religions – among the traditionists, atheists, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and idol worshippers, among others.

However, millions of global citizens, especially netizens, are so subjective and parochial that they find extremism nowhere else except in Islam; no thanks to the Western media for the subliminal conditioning which created suitable conditions for this intellectual crisis.

For instance, the leader of the 969 Movement, a Buddhist terrorist group, Ashin Wirathu made the front cover of the July 2013 edition of Time, a popular American weekly magazine and globally recognised brand, with the headline “The Face of Buddhist Terror”, for spearheading a series of hate campaigns and provocative speeches that have led to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya, a Muslim minority group in Burma, also known as Myanmar.

 

According to a widely circulated UN report, more than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims have been murdered by the Buddhist military in the last 4 months. Over 87,000 of the victims of the pogrom were pregnant women, children and the elderly, who have fled the crisis-ridden region in the last 10 days to neighbouring Bangladesh.

Unfortunately, Bangladesh – and much expectedly, Israel-have decided to join Myanmar to play Russian roulette with the lives and property of the hapless Rohingya. While Israel is “helpfully” supplying Palestine-tested and killer-confirmed weapons to Myanmar to continue the killings, Bangladesh is refusing to take thousands of stateless, homeless and helpless Rohingya refugees in, and it is purportedly “helping Myanmar fight phantom Rohingya ‘militants and extremists’”.

Wirathu and fellow hate Buddhist preachers and anti-Muslim extremists were tolerated by Aung San Suu Kyi – 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and Myanmar’s State Counsellor (de-facto Prime Minister) – to commit Armageddon against the most persecuted Muslim minority in the world (according to UN), as payback for the immense support her political party got from the Buddhist terrorists.

San Suu Kyi’s silence, which has been a motivating factor for the 969 Movement and other Buddhist terror groups to spread anti-Islamic hate speech among the Burmese populace, has been condemned and criticized by the peace-loving people of the world, world leaders, international NGOs and even the United Nations, with many calling for her to be stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize.

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According to the Guardian of London columnist George Monbiot, “Not only has she snubbed and obstructed UN officials who have sought to investigate the treatment of the Rohingya, but her government has prevented aid agencies from distributing food, water and medicines to people displaced or isolated by the violence. Her office has accused aid workers of helping “terrorists”, putting them at risk of attack, further impeding their attempts to help people who face starvation.

In addition to the revocation of her Nobel Peace Prize, Nigerian human rights groups, Muslim Awareness International (MAI) and Centre for Global Peace Initiative (CGPI) have called on the United Nations to sanction the Myanmar government for its ignoble silence, refusal to allow proper investigation and complicity in the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya people.

In a statement jointly signed by Comrade Shakiru Yekini and Engr. Atoyebi A’Waheed, they also urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to begin criminal proceedings against Aung San Suu Kyi, Ashin Wirathu and other key players, for what they termed “an act of genocide and crimes against humanity.”

The statement reads, in part: “Some of the persecutions documented by the UNHRC as suffered by the Rohingya include mass gang rape, brutal beating of children, forced disappearances, torture and killings. An official 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law places restrictions on a number of activities against the Rohingya, making life not only difficult but almost impossible. These include restrictions on the right of movement, rights to study, work, travel, marry, practice their religion and access health services.

“They are equally not allowed participation in the civic and political processes of the country. This is apart from failing to develop the state of Rakhine where the Rohingya are heavily concentrated only because of their religion; the Rakhine state, now devastated and impoverished, used to be one of the most prosperous rice growing areas from the colonial era”, it concluded.

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The ethnic cleansing of Muslims by the Buddhist extremists is not limited to Burma. It cuts across the Buddhist-dominated countries in Asia.

In Sri Lanka, Sinhalese Buddhists led by Bodu Sala Sena have carried out series of attacks on Muslim minorities and their property. There have been cases of attacks on Muslims by the Buddhist terrorists in Thailand, the same way the Christian terrorist group, Anti-Balaka massacred thousands of Muslims and destroyed almost all the mosques in the country, while many Muslims have fled the Central African Republic (CAR) during the country’s age-long civil unrest.

The truth is, no religion supports extremism and terrorism. Like Islam, Buddhism and Christianity are also considered religions of peace, love and tolerance. The violent and inhuman actions of some individuals in the name of these religions should not be a justification to paint them red. This is the reality many westerners and the international media are yet to come to terms with since the 9/11 attacks on the US, 7/7 and 2005 London bombings, which were carried out by terrorist groups in the name of Islam.

Consequently, many innocent Muslims have been targeted in series of what could be referred to “Islamohpobic hate crimes”, which have been on the rise in the US since the inception of Donald Trump’s administration. Yet, the international media have not tagged the attackers of Muslims in the US, UK and Myanmar terrorists, the same way they flagrantly use the term for the few individual Muslims who use the religion of peace as a smokescreen to commit heinous crimes.

So, who is fooling who?

As such, religions should not be blamed for our predicaments because they are meant to strengthen us to be good to ourselves and the society. Let us blame ourselves for not following the dictates of the religions. Let us blame our ourselves for dishing out distorted messages to the adherents of the religions, who see us as vicegerents of God Almighty on Earth.

 – Rasheed Abubakar is a journalist and the author of “Hijab and the Nigerian Press” Email: rawshield123@gmail.com

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