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Muslim Identity and Demography in the Arakan state of Burma - Part 1 Muslim Identity and Demography in the Arakan state of Burma - Part 1
by Dr. Habib Siddiqui
2011-10-27 07:44:54
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1: Introduction

Burma (or today’s Mayanmar) is a country of many nations - many races, ethnicities and religions. It is not a country either of or for any particular group – be they are the majority Bamar (Burman), the minority Shan, Kachin, Kayah, Kayin, Rohingya, Rakhine, Mon, Karen, Chinese, Indians, or whatever. And yet, time and again, this time-honored realization is either forgotten or deliberately ignored.

Racism runs deep and acts like the Krazy glue holding members of each of these discernible groups together in their own domain, while it acts like a double-edged knife cutting through the fabric of the Burmese society, justifying hostility against disparate groups that have nothing in common either in language or in religion. And no group is treated as inhumanly as the Rohingya people of Burma, who live in the northwestern Arakan (Rakhine) state, bordering Bangladesh. The Burmese military government has denied them their citizenship rights, and through its atrocities and harassment have forced millions of the Rohingya to live either as stateless people in its own soil or as unwanted refugees elsewhere. To this sad account, add the daily hatred, racism and bigotry practiced by the Rakhine Maghs – the majority ethnic group living in Arakan. Their ultranationalist leaders and scholars have essentially become the ugly arm of the hated regime to justify the latter’s draconian measures to uproot the Rohingya from their ancestral land.

Khin Maung Saw’s article “Islamization of Burma through Chittagonian Bengalis as Rohingya Refugees” is one such revisionist attempt by a deranged chauvinist Magh to rewrite the history of the Muslims of Arakan. Racism and bigotry are written all over the article. In this post-9/11 era of hatemongering and Islamophobia, it is not difficult to understand his evil mindset that steered him to concoct such an absurd idea that the Rohingya Muslims are working towards Islamization of Myanmar (Burma). Forget about the fact that Burma is a military-ruled country with no democracy, how could a mere 2 to 3 million people impose the dictates of their faith on a nation of 50 million, especially when they are denied all basic rights – of movement, assembly, marriage, education, jobs, etc.? One has to be either mentally unstable or very high in mind-altering drugs to hallucinate such a ludicrous idea!

As already recognized by scores of international organizations and human rights groups, including the US government and the UN, the legitimate rights of the Rohingyas of Arakan state of Burma towards equal rights and citizenship in their ancestral home cannot be throttled by hateful propaganda of anyone, and surely not by the paid agents of the rogue regime that have not given up on their divide-and-conquer policy to weaken genuine democratic aspirations of the people of Burma. And what better tactic than to stoke the fear of Islamization of the country by a persecuted minority that has already been brutalized and marginalized! Denied every right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these unfortunate Rohingya people, pushed to settle for an uncertain life of either statelessness or refugees, inside or outside Burma, must now defend their honor and dignity against hateful and bigotry-ridden campaigns by their fellow countrymen – the racist Rakhine/Maghs of Arakan!

Racism and bigotry cannot come any worse than what thus far has been showcased by these evil children of Arakanese (and by default, Burmese) racism! It is sad to see that Saw who has been living in Germany has not learned anything from its past history of xenophobia. He had the choice to either reject or espouse the failed model of Nazi fascism that has had wrecked so much havoc and brought so much pain, shame and unbearable misery to its people. Instead of siding with the persecuted Rohingyas, he chose the hated monsters of the Nazi era as his model. One can only feel repulsed by such an evil choice.

Thus, it is not surprising to discover the unmistakable similarities of Saw’s fascist onslaught against the persecuted Rohingyas with those of the Jews of Nazi-era Germany. Like his other pseudo-historian peers - Aye Kyaw and Aye Chan (two unabashed fascists, by any account), his pattern of onslaught against the Rohingya people is borrowed from the hateful works of convicted war criminals like Julius Streicher of the Nazi era. One only has to change the terms ‘Jew’ to Chittagonian Bengali/Muslim or Rohingya, ‘Judenstaat’ to Islamization, and ‘Germany’ to Burma (Myanmar) to see the obvious similarity of their hate campaign.

These demented and paranoid Theravada Buddhists of Arakan, often masquerading as intellectual voices of their community, are no democrats and surely not liberals. They are, in fact, closet fascists. If allowed to come to power or sway policy decisions, they will, in all likelihood, borrow the pages from the hated (German) SS manual and repeat the heinous crimes of their fellow coreligionists in Cambodia. It is no accident that Saw’s mentor Aye Kyaw wrote the infamous 1982 Burma Citizenship Law that provided the blueprint for denying citizenship rights of the Rohingya people – the other dominant ethnic group of Arakan. It was done with a calculated precision to not only rob the properties of the Rohingya but also to uproot them en masse from the soil of Arakan, their ancestral home. It’s an utterly devious and devilish conspiracy.

Surely, these Buddhists of Arakan give a bad name to their religion and the non-violent founder of their faith. Their malicious words and acts of unfathomable bigotry, racism, aggression against and oppression of the Rohingya people show that they are misfits to the civilized world, especially in the 21st century when people have learned to live amicably burying their age-old prejudice. Indubitably, multi-culture, integration and pluralism -- a reality in most parts of our world today -- are alien concepts to them, and as such, are an anathema to everything that they stand for or crave for their fractured country along the ethnic line.

The only way this country of many nations can survive and evolve into a civilized state is not through the brutal and savage arms of injustice, denial, xenophobia, abuse and oppression of the minorities but a federal democratic framework that genuinely protects all ensuring their  human rights and equality without any discrimination. This means, the Rohingyas of Arakan should have the same rights as enjoyed by a Rakhine; the Karens have the same rights as enjoyed by a Bamar, and so on and so forth for all the races, tribes, ethnicities, and groups.

As much as the spiteful non-Muslim promoters of ‘Islamization of Europe’ and ‘Islamization of America’ have failed to bring about mass-scale onslaught against minority Muslims living in the West, and, instead, have unearthed their own unfathomable bigotry and racism, and the often-ignored but dirty little secret about the criminality of the homegrown terrorists and white hate-groups, the fascists of Arakan and Burma are doomed to failure with their fear-tactic of using boogeyman of ‘Islamization of Burma.’ Their disinformation campaign has also unearthed their true hideous selves.

************ To be continued *********

[Dr Siddiqui’s book - The Forgotten Rohingya: Their Struggle for Human Rights in Burma – is available from Amazon.com]


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 Muslim Identity and Demography in the Arakan state of Burma - Part1- Part 2 - Part 3 - Part 4

 

 


    
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