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The Asian side of the world - II

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Jean-François Sabouret

Part Two. National challenges and strategies

Buddhists and Muslims of Arakan: religious conflict or national identity crisis?

Maxime Boutry

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November 2012

On 28 May 2012, a young Buddhist was raped and killed by assailants who were immediately identified as “Rohingya” Muslims by the Burmese authorities of Sittwe, in Arakan (Rakhine State). In the weeks that followed, the mutual resentment of the two communities – “Rohingya” Muslims and Buddhist Arakanese, which had festered since the end of British colonization, exploded into incendiary brawls, leading thousands of people of both faiths to flee their homes. Despite the curfew imposed by President Thein Sein on 10 June, the conflict continued, amid propaganda from both sides, and Burmese Buddhists across the country joined their “peers” in Arakan with little hesitation. Another fact, still little discussed, is the silence of the opposition leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, on the conflict and, in direct contrast, the almost unanimous “xenophobic” voice of the Burmese, from the Government to the former opposition leaders, towards the Muslims of Arakan.

As a new episode of the confli...

© CNRS Éditions, 2015

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