Sectarian strife needs Asean response | Bangkok Post: opinion

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Sectarian strife needs Asean response

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  • Newspaper section: News
  • Writer: Jemilah Mahmood & Lilianne Fan
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A regional response is urgently required to stop the escalating Buddhist-Muslim violence in the Asean region. The risk of a deadly regional backlash, stemming from religious hatred campaigns led by Buddhists extremist groups in Myanmar, is growing by the day. There are grave concerns this violence _ which has already fuelled incidents in Malaysia and Indonesia _ coupled with increasing tensions in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Thailand, could spiral out of control. 

The recent killing of five Myanmar Buddhists in and around the capital of Malaysia has raised sectarian tensions to boiling point. Many Myanmar Buddhists, who are economic migrants in Malaysia, now feel they are under threat. Images of this violence are circulating on social media sites, triggering shock, sympathy and anger in Myanmar. In an attempt to quell this violence, the Malaysian government has detained more than 1,000 Myanmar nationals, many of whom now face deportation. The prospect of deportation and the perceived lack of protection have inflamed tensions even further.

In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, counter-terrorism police recently uncovered a bomb plot against the Myanmar embassy and a previously unknown terror cell.

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