BURMA

Wirathu to Discuss Interfaith Marriage Restrictions at Monks’ Conference

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Nationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu is greeted with respect at a monks’ conference in Rangoon in June 2013. (Photo: Jpaing / The Irrawaddy)

RANGOON — Nationalist Buddhist monk U Wirathu said he will hold another large conference for thousands of monks from across Burma next week. He said the monks would gather in Mandalay and discuss his controversial proposal to restrict marriages between Buddhist women and Muslim men.

In June last year, U Wirathu organized a large gathering of monks in Rangoon, who came out in support of his draft Law for the Protection of Race, Religion and Language.

This proposed law would require any Buddhist woman seeking to marry a Muslim man to first gain permission from her parents and local government officials. Any Muslim man who marries a Buddhist woman is required to convert to Buddhism. The monks said at the time that they would pressure lawmakers into adopting the proposal.

On Thursday, U Wirathu told The Irrawaddy that he expected 5,000 monks to attend his Mandalay conference on Jan. 15 and hold discussions on the perceived threats to Buddhism in Burma.

“Mainly our intention is to protect our race and religion. We will discuss issues of our race and religion,” he said. “This meeting is very important for Buddhist people and the result from the meeting will provide complete security for the country.”

U Wirathu said he would again lobby for the clergymen’s support for his controversial proposal. “We found on the ground in almost every township that there are women who were forced to convert to another religion. We need to have an interfaith marriage law to protect them,” he claimed.

U Wirathu hails from a monastery near Mandalay and is considered the leader of a large group of monks belonging to the 969 movement. The group has organized a nationwide campaign calling on Buddhists to shun shops owned by Burma’s Muslim minority.

The movement is accused of spreading hate speech and has been linked to growing inter-communal tensions in Burma. In 2012 and 2013, outbreaks of anti-Muslim violence have left more than 200 people dead and displaced about 150,000 people, most of them Muslim.

Last year, U Wirathu’s proposal sparked widespread criticism from different corners of Burmese society, with some raising questions about the monks’ interference in politics and lawmaking.

The 969 movement has since been campaigning in support of the proposal among Burma’s largely rural Buddhist majority, who deeply revere monks. U Wirathu now claims that 4 million people signed a petition in support of the proposed law.

In November, the controversial monk also made headlines by suggesting that the hugely popular opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi is unfit for the presidency.

His remarks come at a time when Suu Kyi has been stepping up pressure on the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party and the military to amend the Constitution and remove a clause that prevents her from becoming president.

On Thursday, U Wirathu repeated his claims about the National League for Democracy leader and said that increasing security along Burma’s border with its Muslim-majority neighbor Bangladesh was of more importance then discussions about Suu Kyi becoming president

“She should not be our national leader because we cannot rely on her to protect our national interests,” he said, adding, “I am with the group who want to build a fence along the border.”


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16 Responses to Wirathu to Discuss Interfaith Marriage Restrictions at Monks’ Conference

  1. He come again…
    The whole world is laughing…
    We should have international norm.
    This is basic human right?
    Please do not create problem again..
    Let’s move forward….

    • Under the government amnesty, afew years ago, over a hundred of monks, including Uwirathu, were released from the prisons. Among them, only Uwirathu and another monk were allowed to go beack to their monestries. He has messed up religion and politic and openly campaigning for USDP- he said that hge would vote against Daw Suu. Does he have right to vote? Enough is enough reverend!!!
      What’s wrong a burmese marries to a person who has a religion- a Muslim or Christian- than marry to a Chines who has no religion.

  2. Is Wirathu stupid or totally insane? A Muslim man or a Muslim women IS NOT ALLOWED to marry a Buddist, so why he is making all these fuss? If he really want a burmese women not get involved with a Muslim, all he has to do is to preach Buddist women not to convert to Islam, and I. Can assure stupid Wirathu that muslim men will never take a Buddist woman as wife, second opinion I like to give him is to stop burmese women from becoming prostitutes, he should check in Thailand that thousand of unfortunate burmese women are turning to prostitutes. And last but not least Wirathu should trace back history and he will find out that not only the God he worship was Indian, but he himself came out of Indian blood.

  3. We can not understimate Bengali problems.Their population is exploding and they are going to Malaysia(with the help of Human Traffickers in Burma).
    Burmese NewsPaper should write about their route from Border to Malaysia.
    We need very strong Navy and Air Force with latest technologies.We need to buildup before it’s too late.
    U Wirathu will protect Burmese race and religion.
    Remember:U Wisara and U Oattama

    • Tha Yin Oo, Bengali use Burma and Thai as transit to Malaysia and other countries is not new. In early 70s, during Bangladesh Independent war with Pakistan many Bengalis fled to Rakhine state and some Bengalis who have money used fake Burmese National Identity card and travel via Pegu and Moulmein to Thai-Burma border Wankha and Flu Camps. Some Bengalis end up in Insein Prison where I saw a bout 50 Bengalis they called themselves as Rohingya in my time at Insein in 1974. They couldn’t speak Burmese. Poor Bengalis who do not have money end up as laborer in Buthitaung and Maungdaw area. Now those peoples became Rohingya. Bengali migrants in Tripura, Assam and Manipur also claim they are Rohingya ethnic. There are more than 4 millions illegal Bengali migrants are settling down in Tripura, Assam and Manipur but some said more than that.
      Some parts of Bangladesh Country are slowly submerging under sea and rivers. Every year Bangladeshi peoples have to move to where they can live and work. Most of peoples are moving into Chittagong Hill Tracts, Tripura, Assam, Manipur and Rakhine.
      The neighbors of Bangladesh have to expect more illegal Bengali migrants in their territory.
      I agreed Burma needs strong border protection force in land and sea.
      However, I do not agree with what U Wirathu doing now. You can not compare U Wisara and U Ottama with U Wirathu. It is disrespectful and absurd. U Wisara and U Ottama is national hero and they did not do any damage to Buddhism.
      U Withura should leave politic and ethnic problem and let Government to do its job.
      I believe U Wirathu was using by Union Solidarity and Development Party.
      We all have duty to maintain our culture, tradition and religion.

  4. If Wirathu is sharing the fundamental Islamic philosophy, it is up to him. Real Buddhist monks will not share his views and philosophy. Fundamental Islamist Muslims hijack the great religion into the most hostile religion. Wirathu may try to hijack generous Buddhism into hostile religion too.

  5. We support U Withura view and opinion. If Burmese ladies are supposed to Islam if they marry an Islam, what is wrong with U Withura opinion which becomes mandatory because of current communal violence. Most Burmese had taken very lightly saying that you must kill Arakanese first before you kill a snake.

    Before we practice Democracy, we need to have people who have comparable degree of knowledge and social status first. We need to built that atmosphere first. However, Daw ASSK must be included in all building up steps as military gov: in inefficient. Burmese ladies become prostitutes because of poor economy by the mismanagement of military government.

    We are still unsure yet why this communal violence breaks out only recently.

    • He has no right to dictate whom Myanmar women should marry. That’s their choice. As long as they are above legal age and are not forced into marriage, it should be fine. If they decide to convert to islam with their own accord, it should be fine as well. He should respect individual rights. But unfortunately, he doesn’t and he thinks he knows what is good for others. And that shows he is nothing but narcissistic. if he were smart, he should have focused on domestic violence and forced conversion rather than trying to restrict individual rights. But from a person who likened himself with Bin Laden, one can’t expect such rational approach.

  6. Intolerance is itself a form of violence and an obstacle to the growth of a true democratic spirit.

  7. To know a person’s religion we need not listen to his profession of faith but must find his brand of intolerance.

  8. I agree with Lal Ahi. Wirathu is like an Iranian Mullah and wants to control all Burmese monks. He should visit West and see how many Buddhist women have married to non Buddhist and has converted to other religion. Can he go and stop them. Look at his background and his upbringing. He is not worth to be a monk. He is an agent of military junta. What he has to do with FAS Su Kyi.She is an Oxford graduate not an illiterate like Wirathu. Wirathu got blood in his hands for his Indian God will never forgive him.There are well respected and peace loving Monks in Burma whom he wants to brain wash them. Time magazine was right to name him as Buddhist terrorist.

  9. Once upon a time, it was illegal for black people to marry white people and vice versa in the USA and South Africa! What U Wirathu is preaching is not that different from the segregation and discrimination (based on race or skin colour) practised by white people against black people in the past in those countries!

    U Wirathu and his fellow like minded monks are in a sense curtailing freedom of choice and freedom of religion with their proposed law. A country that oppresses or discrimates against it’s own people, it’s ethnic minorties or religious minorites is never going to enjoy lasting peace and prosperity. What did we achieve as a country, as a people in the last 50 years under selfish, narrow-minded, oppressive governments? We were simply left impoverished and behind other countries.

    Myanmar deserves better leaders, who are more progressive and enlightened, and who will promote peace, prosperity and opportunties for its citizens.

  10. U Wirathu needs to quit the monkhood first, in order to pursue this worldly activities.

  11. This is a kind of dirty game playing by current Govt. When it is dammed sure that Wirathu is main instigator for communal unrest of Burma, still getting praise and permission to move any where in Burma from current Govt. He is openly supporting Govt. Thugs party.

  12. In one of his speeches, he said Kalars should bow their heads when they face Buddhist. How can a Monk use this kind of word with full of hatred. He is worried about the western border as if thousands are crossing the border from Bangladesh to become slave in Burma. In reality Buddhist Rakhines are openly coming in thousands daily with the help of Govt and Rakhine extremists. What about eastern borders? Chinese people have swallowed most of the borders of eastern side. But no problem at all, as current Junta thugs have committed business agreement with Chinese and has taken advances in their pockets. This Wirathu is doing what current fake Govt asked him to do. He can move freely to any corners of Burma and with him he brings riots and killings. He also shows fake worry about Burmese girls marrying Muslims. But for him it is not a problem about becoming prostitutes, working as maids in China, Singapore and slave like marriage to Chinese. A drop out from school with lower IQ becomes famous Monk not for good deed but evil.

  13. Western white supremacy with an Asian spin. Sorry I lived long enough to see it.

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