Dalai Lama urges Buddhists: Stop violence against Muslims

(Photo: REUTERS / Danish Siddiqui)Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama arrives to speak at a teaching session in a college in Mumbai May 30, 2014. The Dalai Lama was on a four-day visit to Mumbai.

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama has again urged nationalist Buddhists in Myanmar and Sri Lanka to put an end to violence against Muslim minorities.

Addressing tens of thousands of devotees in northern India, including Hollywood star Richard Gere, the Dalai Lama said that violence targeting the Muslim religious minority is contrary to Buddha's teachings, CNN news reported Monday.

"I urge the Buddhists in these countries to imagine an image of Buddha before they commit such a crime," he said in the Indian town of Leh.

"Buddha preaches love and compassion. If the Buddha is there, he will protect the Muslims whom the Buddhists are attacking."

In Myanmar, religious violence has resulted in more than 200 fatalities and made close to 150,000 people homeless. The victims are predominantly members of the Rohingya Muslim minority.

Last week, riots broke out in Mandalay when Buddhist gangs attacked Muslim-owned businesses and mosques after the alleged rape of a Buddhist woman by two Muslim teashop owners, Arabian Business reported.

Two men - one a Muslim, the other a Buddhist - were reportedly killed in the violence.

Mandalay is the home of extremist Buddhist monk Wirathu. Wirathu, whose utterances are believed to have triggered the violence by spreading the rape rumor on his Facebook page.

In Sri Lanka, four people were killed and hundreds of shops and homes were destroyed last month because of religious violence.

(Photo: Muslim AID)The Muslim minority of Rohingyas in Myanmar accounts for about five percent of the country's population. They have faced torture, neglect, and repression since the country achieved independence in 1948.

Witnesses told CNN that rioting began after attendees heard the leader of Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) group, a monk, gave a fiery speech against Muslims.

Fasniya Fairooz, an 80-year-old grandmother of three, was at home when the mob stormed into her house. She told CNN, "We pleaded with the attackers not to harm us. They took the Holy Quran and burnt it outside... Then they looted the house."

The Dalai Lama, who has lived in exile since 1959, had earlier spoken about the violence perpetrated by Buddhist nationalists.

Last year, he wrote a letter to fellow Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Aung San Suu Kyi, calling for a stop to the violence in Myanmar.

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