Published on Thursday, 27 June 2013 21:17
Local Muslim extremists' Facebook pages (Photo-EMG)
Myanmar Internet users have been alarmed by a growing number of local Muslim extremists who use social media to incite religious riots and spread hate speech against Buddhism.
Popular Facebook names and pages like Maung Thitsar, Modh Tauki, Myanmar Muslim Media, NY Kogyi, Mg Mg, M Media, Thamein Pawthuk Lovers, Oo Oo Steven and Muslim Heroes are among the extremists who are intent on spreading hate speech, inciting riots, and making attacks on the '969 movement' and anyone who object to the TIME magazine's article "The Face of Buddhist Terror" in its July issue.
The extremists have also been spreading rumours about murders of Muslims and alleged genocide against Rohingyas in Myanmar by manipulating the pictures of the dead, some of whom had been killed in incident that is not related to racial violence. Many assumed that their intent was to incite riots and mislead the international community.
A post written by one of the extremist, Oo Oo Steven, titled "Myanmar Muslims Should Rise", has been shared by over 100 people, and one of the Internet users using the name ‘Lynn Hpone Thant’ has commented, "I've been wanting to take revenge on those idiots from the other side. I'm completely filled with hatred."
On his Facebook page, Thamein Pawthuk Lovers wrote "Most Buddhists supported violence [against Muslims] and ignored [the violence] so it's no wonder Buddhism has been labeled [as radical]." This page has now been removed.
Although these Muslim extremists have various names on Facebook, they all give similar messages on inciting racial violence and spreading hate speech.
On the other hand, names such as Ludu Maung Karlu, a well known pen-name used for government propaganda in past, as well as Facebook pages such as “We Love True” are also intent on spreading religious extremism and took up ultra-nationalist views against Muslims.
"Extremism is really bad. We shouldn't separate people based on their religions but rather on whether they are extremists or not. I'm against extremism. We need more people to write with unbiased views. Now, online pages are like a war between extremists from different sides," said Nay Phone Latt.
"We won't accept any kind of extremists. We have different religious based on different family backgrounds, but we are all citizens of this country. I only see a person as a person," said Pa Shee, a former political prisoner who is a Muslim.
"Every religion has extremists. In America, they have both Muslim extremists and Christian extremists, but the public don't accept any extremists. The [US] government also handles these extremists properly in accord with the law. The world does not support extremists. No government official support Al-Qaeda," said Maung Maung Kyaw, who lives in the United State.
General Secretary of Shan National League for Democracy Sai Nyut Lwin said not to be deceived by the writings of the extremists and religious propagandas. He urged people to read with common sense.
The existing laws in Myanmar can be used to take action against the use of expressions on religious extremism and incitements. In the Penal Code of Myanmar, Chapter XXII states charges of criminal intimidation, insult and annoyance in its Section 505 (C).
Section 505 clearly states that whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report intentionally to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to two years, or with fine, or with both.
Additionally, charges against offending religions are already stated in Chapter XV, Section 295. "Whoever destroys, damages or defiles any of worship, or any object held sacred by any class or person with the intention of thereby insulting the religion of any of person or with the knowledge that any class of likely to consider such destruction, damage or defilement as insult to their religion, shall be punished with either description for a term which may extend to two year or with fine, or with both," according to the law.
Myanmar internet users comment that such kinds of incitements are clear to be seen as immoral writings when the truth is revealed.
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