|Political ideology||Opposition to Islam, Buddhist revivalism, Religious nationalism|
The 969 Movement (Burmese: ၉၆၉ လှုပ်ရှားမှု) is a Buddhist nationalist movement opposed to what they see as Islam's expansion in predominantly-Buddhist Myanmar (Burma). The three digits of 969 "symbolise the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community". The first 9 stands for the nine special attributes of the Buddha and the 6 for the six special attributes of his Dharma, or Buddhist Teachings, and the last 9 represents the nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha (monastic community). Those special attributes are the Three Jewels of the Buddha. In the past, the Buddha, Sangha, Dhamma, the wheel of Dhamma, and "969" were Buddhist signs.
The movement has inspired strong reactions within and beyond Myanmar. In the international media it has received criticism. The Straits Times reported that Ashin Wirathu, the movement's leader, responded to recent anti-Muslim violence with pledges to work for peace but critics remain sceptical.
Various media organizations have described the movement as being anti-Muslim or "Islamophobic". The movement's Myanmar Buddhist supporters deny it is anti-Muslim, with Bhikkhu Wirathu stating it is a protective movement about targeting "Bengalis who are terrorizing ethnic Rakhine (Buddhists)". Alex Bookbinder, in The Atlantic, links the movement's origins in a book written in the late 1990s by Kyaw Lwin, a functionary in the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and its precepts are rooted in a traditional belief in numerology. Across South Asia, Muslims represent the phrase "In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful" with the number 786, and businesses display the number to indicate that they are Muslim-owned. 969's proponents see this as a Muslim plot to conquer Burma in the 21st century, based on the premise that 7 plus 8 plus 6 is equal to 21. The number 969 is intended to be 786's cosmological opposite.
Wirathu is regarded as the movement's highest protector. It has been reported that he advocates the boycott of shops owned by Muslims. Wirathu has himself stated that the movement has been treated as a scapegoat by being unfairly blamed for events like the 2012 Rakhine State riots, and maintains that "969 is not violent". The Asia Times Online has described him as a "complex figure" who demonises Muslims, but also protests police violence. An article in The Straits Times says a source indicated that Wirathu had changed his tone and "pledged to promote peace among religious communities".
The cover story of the 20 June 2013 issue of Time magazine called Wirathu "The Face of Buddhist Terror". "You can be full of kindness and love, but you cannot sleep next to a mad dog", Wirathu said, referring to Muslims. "If we are weak", he said, "our land will become Muslim". "Some people misunderstood the title [of the Time article] ... seeing it as an insult to religion", said Dr. Yan Myo Thein, a political analyst. "They believe it’s equating Buddhism with terrorism". After the publication of the Time article, Wirathu denied responsibility for anti-Muslim violence. Shortly after, the June 2013 issue of Time featuring Wirathu was banned in Myanmar.
Burma's government has objected to the magazine article. Authorities deny they are defending the monk, Wirathu, but said they were concerned the article could create problems after recent unrest between Buddhists and Muslims. Burmese President Thein Sein, however, has defended Wirathu, saying the monk's order was striving for peace and prosperity and that the report undermined efforts to rebuild trust between faiths. "The government is currently striving with religious leaders, political parties, media and the people to rid Myanmar [Burma] of unwanted conflicts," he added. Wirathu has said that the Time article was not against Buddhism, just against him. In an interview with The Irrawaddy magazine, he also alleged Muslim extremists were behind the article and planning to wage jihad against Burma.
Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Yangon early in the afternoon on 30 June 2013 in a peaceful demonstration against Time magazine's article on senior monk U Wirathu and the 969 movement he leads. Marching monks held a banner proclaiming that U Wirathu is "Not The Terrorist, But The Protector of Race, Language and The Religion". Speaking to Mizzima News, one demonstrator, a 51-year-old office manager, said, "TIME Magazine is wrong. He [Wirathu] is peaceful. Every monk is a peacemaker. The Buddhist religion wants brotherhood with everyone."
The movement is seeking to draft a law that would forbid Buddhist women from marrying non-Buddhist men without the permission of local officials. Dhammapiya, a senior monk who helped write the original proposal for the laws, said they were meant to encourage peace between different faiths and to "protect" Buddhist women from being forced to convert to Islam when they married Muslim men. Government religious regulatory authorities, while supporting the protection of the Buddhist faith from perceived Islamic threats, reject the legal initiatives of the 969 movement and "prohibited the creation of formal organisations" based on 969 principles.
- Bodu Bala Sena
- 2012 Ramu violence
- Buddhism and violence
- South Thailand insurgency
- Rohingya conflict in Western Burma
- 2012 Rakhine State riots
- 2013 Burma anti-Muslim riots
- Persecution of Muslims in Burma
- Patriotic Association of Myanmar
- Chittagong Hill Tracts conflict
- Chakma people
- Jumma people
- "969: The Strange Numerological Basis for Burma's Religious Violence - Alex Bookbinder". The Atlantic. 9 April 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "Extremism builds among Myanmar's Buddhists | Seattle Times Newspaper". Seattletimes.com. 21 June 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Matthew J Walton (2 April 2013). "Buddhism turns violent in Myanmar". Asia Times. Archived from the original on 2 April 2013.CS1 maint: unfit URL (link)
- "Root Out the Source of Meikhtila Unrest". Irrawaddy.org. Archived from the original on 27 August 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "Nationalist Monk U Wirathu Denies Role in Anti-Muslim Unrest". Irrawaddy.org. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "Monks speak out against misuse of '969'". Mmtimes.com. 10 April 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Nirmal Ghosh (1 April 2013). "Anti-Muslim monk changes tack, vows to promote peace". The Straits Times.
- Downs, Ray (27 March 2013). "Is Burma's Anti-Muslim Violence Led by Buddhist Neo-Nazis ?". Vice.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Sardina, Carlos (10 May 2013). "Who are the monks behind Burma's '969' campaign? | DVB Multimedia Group". Dvb.no. Archived from the original on 31 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Lindsay Murdoch (15 April 2013). "Anti-Muslim movement hits Myanmar". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "Myanmar's extremist Buddhists get free rein". Nation.com.pk. Archived from the original on 15 October 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "Religious radicals driving "Myanmar's" unrest". Global Post. 31 March 2013.
- Hodal, Kate; Khalili, Mustafa; Salfield, Alice (16 April 2013). "Burma's Bin Laden, the Buddhist monk who fuels hatred - video | World news". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "Fanatical Buddhist Monk Saydaw Wirathu Calling for Boycott of Myanmar Muslims [VIDEO] - IBTimes UK". International Business Times.co.uk. 26 March 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- "The 'Burmese bin Laden' fomenting violence against Myanmar's Muslims | The National". Thenational.ae. 29 March 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Ghosh, Nirmal. "Outspoken anti-Muslim monk pledges to promote peace in Myanmar". Straitstimes.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Beech, Hannah (1 July 2013). "The Buddhist Monks Advocating Intolerance in Asia". TIME. Archived from the original on 21 June 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- [full citation needed]
- "Myanmar Monk Rejects Terrorist Label Following Communal Clashes". Rfa.org. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Williams, Alex (28 June 2013). "Myanmar bans TIME Magazine over 'Buddhist Terror' cover story (video)". Inside Investor. Retrieved 28 June 2013.
- "BBC News - Burmese leader defends 'anti Muslim' monk Ashin Wirathu". BBC. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Daniel Schearf. "Burma Objects to Time Magazine Criticism". Voanews.com. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- [full citation needed]
- "Ashin Wirathu Thera of Myanmar to work with BBS". Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka). 28 September 2014.
- "Buddhism v Islam in Asia: Fears of a new religious strife". The Economist. 27 July 2013. Retrieved 19 October 2013.
- Jared Ferrie and Min Zayar Oo (11 September 2013). "Myanmar Buddhist committee bans anti-Muslim organizations". Reuters. Retrieved 18 October 2013.
- d'Elena, Grisel (1 April 2016). The Gender Problem of Buddhist Nationalism in Myanmar: The 969 Movement and Theravada Nuns (Thesis). doi:10.25148/etd.FIDC000261.
- Zhang, Yifan (2015). Buddhist nationalistic movements in Myanmar: a case study on the 969 (Thesis). hdl:123456789/51122.
- Zhang, Yifan (2016). "A comparative study of Buddhist nationalistic movements in Myanmar and Sri Lanka: A case study on the 969 movement in Myanmar and the Bodu Bala Sena in Sri Lanka". วารสารศิลปศาสตร์ มหาวิทยาลัยธรรมศาสตร์. 16 (2): 237–256.
- van Klinken, Gerry; Aung, Su Mon Thazin (27 May 2017). "The Contentious Politics of Anti-Muslim Scapegoating in Myanmar". Journal of Contemporary Asia. 47 (3): 353–375. doi:10.1080/00472336.2017.1293133. S2CID 151452780.
- Kyaw, San Wai (2014). Myanmar's religious violence: a buddhist 'siege mentality' at work (Thesis). hdl:10220/19906.
- Coclanis, Peter A. (2013). "TERROR IN BURMA: Buddhists vs. Muslims". World Affairs. 176 (4): 25–33. JSTOR 43554876.
- Sohel, Salman (November 2017). "The Rohingya Crisis in Myanmar: Origin and Emergence" (PDF). Saudi Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. 2 (11A): 1007–1018. SSRN 3307082.