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When Buddhist supremacism unites

Photograph Colombo Telegraph

The Sinhala Buddhist monk Galagoda Atte Gnanasara of Sri Lanka's Bodu Bala Sena met with the leader of Burma's notorious 969 movement, Ashin Wirathu, at the sidelines of the BIMSTEC conference in Burma earlier this week, reports Colombo Telegraph.

The Sri Lankan president Mahinda Rajapaksa was also present at the conference, however it is unknown if BBS's Gnanasara traveled as part of the President's entourage.

See 'This is the modern axis of Buddhist hate' by Jake Scobey-Thal published in Foreign Policy today.

Extract reproduced below:

"Wirathu has emerged as the public face of that movement, and the monk's anti-Muslim rhetoric has helped incite attacks on Burma's Muslim civilians -- particularly its ethnic Rohingya -- over the past 18 months. Last year, TIME magazine featured Wirathu on its cover under the headline "The Face of Buddhist Terror."

But Wirathu is not alone in setting out a dangerous new vision for a religion grounded in the principle of non-violence. Gnanasara, who serves as a spiritual leader of sorts, is using his position to stoke the same type of religious bigotry in his home country of Sri Lanka.

Gnanasara is the co-founder of Sri Lanka's Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Power Force. The group, which was formed in 2012, agitates against what it sees as the threat Islam poses to Sri Lanka's Sinhalese-Buddhist identity. As in Burma, Muslims in Sri Lanka are a small, largely peaceful minority. But that hasn't stopped Gnanasara's group from stoking fears of extremism."

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