It has to be said: the majority of people in Burma hate all Muslims, not just Rohingya. So when the OIC wanted to come to Burma, detractors immediately labelled it a terrorist organisation, when it’s anything but – the OIC has a permanent delegation to the United Nations
! With so few people willing to help us, we Muslims would have been very happy to have the OIC come here and see how we are treated.
The monks protesting the OIC are mixing up religion with ultra-nationalism. In fact, like many Burmese, they falsely believe that Muslims – even if they have been here for generation upon generation – are somehow foreigners. Buddhism is a great religion, and many monks are peaceful and democratic. But some, unfortunately, are power-hungry, and discriminating against others is a way to gain power. In my town, monks recently distributed anti-Muslim pamphlets on the street. They said Muslims were criminals, and that people shouldn’t buy from Muslims shops. They’re bullying us.
“Muslims are now wondering, when will the violence arrive in my town? In my house?”
Of course, it’s not just the monks. A few days ago, a Muslim friend of mine in Yangon told me that his son, who goes to dental college, was forced by his teachers to cut his beard off – or get kicked out of the school. You’re treated like a nobody.
Ever since the violence in Rakhine state in June, discrimination against Muslims has become worse and worse throughout the country. It had been getting steadily worse over the past few decades – in terms of access to education, housing, economic opportunities - but now we’re truly fearful for our future. Because of these tensions, Muslims are now thinking, When will violence arrive in my town? In my house?