Muslim/Buddhist Conflict as Portrayed in the Media

Posted on December 10, 2015 by


The New York Times- “Sri Lanka’s Violent Buddhists”

This source is clearly weighing in that Buddhists are taking things too far by using words like ‘hard-line’ and ‘extremists’ when describing the political aspect of Buddhists rallying behind a candidate and threatening those who oppose them. This article opens with a story of a Buddhist who had to go into hiding because he opposed the extremists, but not of a Muslim. This could be saying that the author is not on the Muslim’s side, but not on the Buddhist’s either.

The Washington Post- “Why does this Buddhist-majority nation hate these Muslims so much?” 

By using the word hate in the title, you can already tell the author is in favor of the Muslims without saying so directly. This article is highlighting a specific group of Muslims called the Rohingya, focused in Burma/Myanmar and how under the Burmese/Myanmar government, they can hope for no better than a ‘squalid existence’, struggling for ‘basic state services’. This makes the Burmese/Myanmar population seem unforgiving and harsh and the Rohingya a poor group of people.

Fox News- “Radical Buddhists Protest in Myanmar, denying boat people are Rohingya Muslims”

This source presents facts as if the Buddhists are complete liars. They are denying these ‘boat people’ who are fleeing from their country are Rohingya, because they deny this group of people exist at all so they do not need to recognize them. Not only does this make Myanmar people, or rather ‘radical’ protesters, liars, but also uncivil people who do not recognize other religious groups in their newly democratic state.

Youtube Channel: Testtube News “Buddhists are killing Muslims in Myanmar”

They use the word ‘killing’ in the title, but in this very pathos-filled video, they use only ‘displaced’. The title does not match the content of the video. The video states that the Myanmar government has taken away voting rights and limits other parts of Rohingya people’s lives like how many children they have and how much they can travel. Again, painting the Myanmar government as the villain.

The Nation- “Muslim Leader Fears violence Could Erupt Against Community”

Rather than just paint the Myanmar government as the villains, this author took it one further and clearly showed that Muslims are the victim by interviewing a Muslim leader. This leader said, with the impending shift of power within the Myanmar government, “Muslims are the usual Scapegoats”. This statement really hit home to me, because of how true it really is. Whenever people hear about bombings or shootings, their first reactions are always to ask if the person was Muslim. This is severely depressing to hear, especially from the lips of a Muslim leader who recognized this. The author did a great job of framing this article to create sympathy without too much pathos.

Huffington Post- “Buddhist, Muslim Leaders Push for Peace in Conflict Areas”

This article is a much more positive take on the violent situation between the two world religions. Rather than focusing on the hate, the author chose to frame it in peaceful communication through the two groups with a Yogyakarta Statement. It reads that both Islam and Buddhism support different phrases like ‘respect the sacredness of life and inherent dignity of human existence’.

The Deutsche Welle- “Buddhist monks incite hatred against Muslims in Myanmar”

This German source has been the best so far, only because they interviewed more than one person on either side of the conflict to provide perspective; however, the author still favors the Muslims and liberal onks through diction. The author refers to one of the liberal monks as not ‘lacking in courage’, but describes the political side of the conflict and how Buddhist legislators might pass a law saying in order to change religions officially, it needs to be cleared by them. Providing this information sets the Myanmar government up for failure in the reader’s eyes.

Aljazeera America- “Myanmar’s Buddhist Terrorism Problem”

Using the word terrorism, especially in the title, is very effective on the writer’s part, utilizing the fact that some uneducated people view Muslims as terrorists. They set up the scene from the very beginning, looking at Muslims as the victims. This is the first source that has done that. Ashin Wirathu, a radical monk leader, is even referred to in this article (in bold letters) as the “Burmese bin Laden”. Talk about ironic. That may sound a bit far-fetched, but I believe it.



CNN- “Anti-Muslim Tension Simmers Ahead of Myanmar Election”

Similar to The Deutsche Welle, this article mentions the upcoming election and how many radicals use the fact that Muslims take multiple wives who must convert to Islam before marriage, and have children who will become Muslim to justify their actions because ‘that threatens the Buddhist religion’. They also highlight a story of a liberal monk who saved over 900 Muslims by providing shelter in their Mosque from the radicals during a violent riot showing how a model monk would behave and that there are still good monks out there.

BBC- “The Darker Side of Buddhism”

This article is mostly about race and how a certain organization (BBS) wants to go back to the Sinhalese roots of everything… even though many Muslims are Sinhalese and have been for centuries… their argument is made to seem invalid by BBC it seems. Just like every other source I have found, the ones who are killing people are the bad guys.



The more you know.



Mohan, Rohini, “Sri Lanka’s Violent Buddhists”, New York Times, 1/2/15 (


Tharoor, Ishaan, “Why does this Buddhist-majority nation hate these Muslims so much?”, Washington Post, 2/13/15 (


“Radical Buddhists Protest in Myanmar, denying boat people are Rohingya Muslims”, Fox News, 2/27/15 (


Testtube News “Buddhists are killing Muslims in Myanmar”, Youtube, 3/30/15 (


Ganjanakhundee, Supalak, “Muslim Leader Fears violence Could Erupt Against Community”, The Nation, 11/11/15 (


Blumberg, Antonia, “Buddhist, Muslim Leaders Push for Peace in Conflict Areas”, The Huffington Post, 3/20/15



Hofmann, Sarah, “Buddhist monks incite hatred against Muslims in Myanmar”, Deutsche Welle, 3/20/15



Siddiqui, Usaid, “Myanmar’s Buddhist Terrorism Problem”, Aljazeera America, 2/18/15



Watson, Ivan and Manny Maung “Anti-Muslim Tension Simmers Ahead of Myanmar Election”, CNN, 11/3/15



Haviland, Charles, “The Darker Side of Buddhism”, BBC, 5/30/15



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