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Religious Violence Spreads to India


Buddhist-Muslim tensions are spreading beyond Burma. Early this morning, the Mahabodhi Temple, one of Eastern India’s holiest Buddhist shrines, was hit by a series of explosions, which officials believe were an act of terrorism. Although little else is known about the attack and no deaths have been reported, the NYT report suggests that these attacks are a continuation of the religious violence that has swept neighboring countries:

In New Delhi, Home Secretary Anil Goswami characterized the explosions as a terrorist attack, though investigators have not identified any suspects or possible motives. Indian media reported that the Home Ministry had asked for additional security at Buddhist shrines and Tibetan settlements. The advisory cited rising tensions related to the ethnic conflict in neighboring Myanmar between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims.

Mr. Goswami told reporters that four explosions occurred inside the temple complex, three others shook a nearby monastery and one went off near a statue of Buddha. Two other bombs were defused, he said.

It’s not clear yet who was responsible, but it’s difficult to see the attack on one of Buddhism’s holiest shrines at a time of rising religious unrest as anything but an expansion of this conflict. In Thailand, Burma and Sri Lanka religious and ethnic conflicts between Buddhists and Muslims are turning violent; if it comes out that an Islamic group is behind these attacks, India could soon be joining them. Attacks like this are only pouring gasoline on the fire.

[Mahabodhi Temple image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons]

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  • Andrew Allison

    The fact that Islamists are still killing co-religionists over a 1400 year-old dispute regarding the succession to Muhammed suggest that, as usual, de Tocqueville had it right:
    “I studied the Koran a great deal. I came away from that study with the conviction there have been few religions in the world as deadly to men as that of Muhammad.”
    (Letter to Arthur de Gobineau, 22 October 1843)

    • Pete

      Thanks for the de Tocqueville quote. It’s right on the money.

    • ljgude

      How terribly disappointing to discover that de Tocqueville was vile Islamophobist all those years ago!

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