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An Open Letter from the Buddhist Community on Islamophobia

A very important letter from the Buddhist community responding to Islamophobia in the West and in the wider Buddhist community abroad, specifically Burma, (h.t: AA):

An Open Letter from the Buddhist Community on Islamophobia

As disciples of the Buddha who live in the West, we would like to take the holy month of Ramadan as an opportunity to express our growing concern about Islamophobia, both within our governments and within the Buddhist community worldwide.

In North America and Europe, the past decade has seen peaceful Muslim communities targeted by hate crimes, police profiling, and even challenges to their basic human rights of free religion and free assembly. The New York Times reports that the New York City Police Department infiltrated peaceful Muslim groups across the Northeastern United States for indiscriminate surveillance. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has faced vandalism, arson, and legal challenges opposing their new mosque, while France and Belgium have outlawed wearing niqāb in public over concerns about immigration, the status of women, and the diluting of European culture.

In the wider Buddhist community there have been media reports of Buddhist leaders—including monastics—endorsing human rights abuses against Muslim ethnic groups. For example, The Independent reports that Buddhist monastic organizations in Burma are blocking aid shipments to refugee camps for ethnically Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine. The article also accuses monastic associations of encouraging ethnically Rakhine Buddhists not to associate with Rohingya. Ethnic tensions have resulted in human rights abuses and loss of life on both sides of this conflict.

Meanwhile, Newsweek reports that the Thai government has set up military encampments inside Buddhist temples—even using some of them as torture chambers—in their ongoing fight against a violent Malay Muslim insurgency in the southern states of Patani, Yala, and Narathiwat. More disturbingly, Newsweek reports the Thai government is paying ethnic Thais to resettle in majority-Malay areas in order to dilute the Malay population. Once again, there have been many human rights abuses and much loss of life on both sides of the conflict.

n this time of conflict, we believe that the life and teachings of the Buddha can be a shining example for the world. He taught us to practice mutual respect among all people without prejudice, to work for the mutual benefit of all beings, and to try to solve our problems without resorting to violence. In those rare instances where violence is necessary, he taught us to practice restraint and to protect innocent lives. It is in this spirit that we are writing.

In our own countries, we ask law enforcement agencies to stop targeting Muslim communities with indiscriminate surveillance and profiling. And we call on Americans to see their Muslims neighbors as fellow citizens, bound together with them through the shared values of democracy, equality, and freedom.

In the wider Buddhist community, we ask our fellow Buddhists to refrain from using the Dharma to support nationalism, ethnic conflict, and Islamophobia. We believe that these values are antithetical to the Buddha’s teachings on loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.

The vast majority of Muslims the world over are peaceful, law-abiding people who share much the same dreams, hopes, and aspirations as their non-Muslim neighbors. They are our friends, our relatives, our colleagues, our neighbors, and our fellow citizens. Most importantly, they are our fellow sentient beings, all of whom, the Buddha taught, have loved and cared for us in the past. We stand with them during this holy month of Ramadan and denounce Islamophobia unequivocally.


Joshua Eaton, M.Div., Boston, MA, USA

Rev. Danny Fisher, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Rod Meade Sperry, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Sharon Salzberg, Barre, MA, USA
Mushim (Patricia) Ikeda, Oakland, CA, USA
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Carmel, NY, USA
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, San Diego, CA, USA
Charles Prebish, State College, PA, USA
William Aiken, Washington, DC, USA
Rev. James Ishmael Ford, Providence, RI, USA
Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Boulder, CO, USA
Shastri Ethan Nichtern, New York City, NY, USA
Lodro Rinzler, New York City, NY, USA
Lopon Rita Gross, Eau Claire, WI, USA
Rev. Maia Zenyu Duerr, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Gary Gach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Allan Badiner, Big Sur, CA, USA
Rev. Wakoh Shannon Hickey, Alfred, NY, USA
Koshin Paley Ellison, New York City, NY, USA
Steve Kanji Ruhl, State College, PA, USA
Martin Aylward, Cubjac, Aquitaine, FRANCE
Karma Yonten Gyatso, Richmond Hill, Ontario, CANADA
Arun Gandhi, Rochester, NY, USA

Claire Michalewicz, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Martin Whelan, Slingo, County Slingo, IRELAND
Susan Wirawan, Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Luke McKean, Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Miguel Marcos, Madrid, Community of Madrid, SPAIN
Catherine DeLorey, Boston, MA, USA
Stephen Hale, Muir Beach, CA, USA
Rik Center, San Francisco, CA, USA
Kris Freedain, Laguna Niguel, CA, USA
Rev. Michael Tran, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Brant Henne, Swampscott, MA, USA
Craig Thomas, York, PA, USA
Zoey Roy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Angela Gunn, Savannah, GA, USA
Laurie Knowlton, Boothbay, ME, USA
Jessica Bizub, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Robin Reed, San Francisco, CA, USA
Prof. Kristopher Short, Cranston, RI, USA
Vivien Phung, Laguna Niguel, CA, USA
Jean Lamont, State College, PA, USA
Kathleen de Vries, Napa, CA, USA
Peter Muller, New York City, NY, USA
Dee Levy, Swindon, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Sandra Madera, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Chaplain Karen Morris, M.Div., Johnson City, TN, USA
Anda Peterson, St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Matthew Gegenhuber, Hawkins, WI, USA
Dean Hill, Albany, NY, USA
Karla Passalacqua, Atlanta, GA, USA
Ven. Hue Hai, Alhambra, CA, USA
Terry Evans, Bangor, North Wales, UNITED KINGDOM
Jim Hasse, Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Karma Sonam Lhamo, Penllyn, PA, USA
Geoff Haynes, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
Lynnea Bylund, Dana Point, CA, USA
Victor Spence, Edinburgh, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM
Upāsaka Raymond M. McDonald, La Verne, CA, USA
Imtiaaz Gafoor, Johannesburg, Gauteng, SOUTH AFRICA
Nisar Ahmed, Karachi, Sindh, PAKISTAN
David Cabrera, Hollywood, FL, USA
Rev. Michael W. A. Henderson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Christina Omorochoe, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Kelly Hills, Ardmore, PA, USA
Thom Stromer, Baltimore, MD, USA
Roger K. James, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, BRAZIL
Stephanie Cianfriglia, Endicott, NY, USA
John Christensen, Chicago, IL, USA
Tanis Moore, Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
Nancy A. Jefferis, Santee, CA, USA

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  • Bruce

    It’s easy for Western Buddhists to take the moral high ground.

    When is the last time muslim community did the same for their own atrocities? Oh wait, they blame it on western countries, colonialism, imperialism, zionists etc etc etc.

  • http://loonwatch sam muhammad

    president eisenhower warned us about the military industrial complex …the military needs a enemy in order to not have their budgets cut..ask jfk and rfk what happens when you try to resist war..after the communist collapse we needed a new enemy…radical islam was the overwhelming choice of pentagon planners…most terror groups have been infiltrated by the west and some have been created by western intelligence agencies…the goal is to use these terror groups to advance the causes of the military industrial complez….9/11 according to the 9/11 truther movement was a inside job..we’d like to think our own govt would not kill its own citizens but unfortunately thats not the case…ask jfk..rfk and the 9/11 victims…look who benfited

  • sam muhammad

    Nothing on this terror in burma against muslims in the mainstream media….had this been the other way around we would have been bombarded with daily news on it….look folks since 1980 over 2 million muslims have been murdered by the west vs 20,000 judeo christians killed by muslims…add it all up…u.s. backed war against iran using saddam hussein….hundreds of thousands of muslims murdered by christian serbs in bosnia…150,000 killed in israeli invasion of lebanon….200,000 murdered in illegal iraq war 2003….resistance is futile

  • Pingback: President Barack Obama Eases Sanctions on Burma Even as Violent Onslaught Against Rohingya Muslims Continues « The Sail()

  • UK Muslim

    This is appreciated. Good “men” doing something!

  • BuddhaShrink

    “They are our friends, our relatives, our colleagues, our neighbors, and our fellow citizens. Most importantly, they are our fellow sentient beings….”

    Yes, “We stand with them during this holy month of Ramadan and denounce Islamophobia unequivocally.”

    And the other months of the year too!

  • Géji

    “The vast majority of Muslims the world over are peaceful”

    This very phrase, sorry to say, but in itself when stated, be overtly repeated to justify, even by those “peaceful” advocating seem very strange indeed. I wonder if nowadays any other community on earth that was limbed together to be systematically targeted in every ways possible, as whole, by empires and all, could be said of “The vast majority of ….” – select of your choosing community.

  • Meryem

    As a Muslim I would like to thank the Buddhist community for writing this.

  • Muhammad

    Thankyou! The Muslims appreciate this quite a bit although the ground reality remains the same.

  • Abbey

    This is very much appreciated by the Muslim community.

  • NurAlia

    If Muslims stop acting like this is a Muslim problem, rather than a bigot problem, more people will find it in thier best interest to stop all bigotry.

    I think it is now time for Muslims to call out hate as hate, because if they werent hating Muslims, it would be someone else.

  • tyrone biggums

    as long as politicians benefits from islamophobia there is no open letter or good will that can stop islamophobia, the future is not looking bright for us, still i want to thank loonwatch for shining light on all those unfair things that happen to muslims, peace to all people exept for those who oppress others

  • Saladin

    @CriticalDragon1177 &@Mindy1

  • CriticalDragon1177


    That, is easier said than done, unfortunately.

  • mindy1

    Wonderfully written, loved the sentiment expressed, now how to make people act like that… :/

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