Burmese President Defends "Burmese Bin Laden"
said the President. Wirathu himself lambasted the article in an interview with the Irrawaddy magazine, saying “This is being done because the Islamic extremists want my downfall.”Wirathu styles himself as a defender of freedom in the new Burma. He frequently suggests there is a conspiracy afoot to turn Burma into a Muslim country, that Muslims will overrun “good” Buddhists, force them to convert to Islam, and steal their women and daughters and jobs. In his sermons, heard by thousands of people across the country, he describes violence against Muslims, like the massacre of children in Meiktila in March, as a show of strength.Nevertheless, President Thein Sein lept to Wirathu’s defense, labeling him a “son of Buddha” and a “noble person” in an official statement. He made no mention of Wirathu’s hate-filled speeches, nor the rampaging mobs that burned and slaughtered their way through Muslim neighborhoods on several occasions earlier this year. As of this writing, celebrated human rights activist and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi—whose earlier criticism of violence against Burmese Muslims was pretty weak, at best—has neither defended nor attacked Wirathu.[Wirathu photo courtesy of Getty Images]