This article examines Buddhist extremism in Myanmar. It argues that Buddhist extremism—like other types of religious extremism—is an acute form of fundamentalism. The article begins with a survey of how extremism is usually understood in the theoretical literature, showing that its religious variant is best conceived of as an acute form of fundamentalism. It then fine tunes this understanding, arguing that religious extremism is a fundamentalist belief system that justifies structural violence against relevant out-groups. The article outlines seven core characteristics of the religious extremist culled from the various theoretical approaches to extremism. It employs these seven characteristics to examine Buddhist extremism in Myanmar, particularly in the way it has fueled violence against the ethnic minority Rohingya Muslim community in that country, giving rise to a humanitarian crisis with potential wider regional repercussions. The article reiterates that to cope with the ongoing Rohingya crisis, policy makers within and outside Myanmar must acquire a much deeper understanding of Buddhist extremism.
"Understanding Myanmar’s Buddhist Extremists: Some Preliminary Musings,"
New England Journal of Public Policy: Vol. 32:
2, Article 4.
Available at: https://scholarworks.umb.edu/nejpp/vol32/iss2/4