Thomas Donilon, the US president's national security adviser, said that Barack Obama was to raise concerns over the plight of Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state during his meetings with Myanmar President Thein Sein and opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi. Doing so could be critical not only to resolving the conflict in Rakhine state, but it could also have great implications for relations between Islam and the West.
In the latest clashes last month, sectarian violence between the Buddhist majority and Muslim minority in Myanmar's westernmost state claimed 89 lives, according to official reports. While much of the world sees the situation as "merely" a clash between Buddhists and Muslims, it is much more complex.
At the heart of the conflict is the Rohingya's lack of protection from the state because they are not considered Myanmar citizens, despite having lived in the country for several generations. Buddhist Rakhines view the Rohingya with suspicion, as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh who refuse to speak the Burmese language and embrace the local culture.
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