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Buddhist nationalism challenges Myanmar's government

Monastic leaders signal fear of sudden social change as public protests resume

| Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos

The current crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine State, following coordinated attacks by a Rohingya militant group on some 30 police posts, is a grave threat to the security and stability of that restive state. While driven by mainly local dynamics and grievances, it also feeds Buddhist nationalism across the country.

Recent weeks have seen some striking scenes in Myanmar: a renewed military crackdown on Rohingya Muslim communities in western Rakhine State after militants attacked a series of police checkpoints and bases; prominent monks rallying outside courts in Yangon in support of nationalist agitators on trial for inciting anti-Muslim violence; heavily armed militia in Kayin State guarding Buddhist nationalist signboards to prevent their removal by the authorities; and the forcible clearing of anti-government protest camps at some of the country's most sacred pagodas. Together with a worrying spate of small-scale communal clashes outside of Rakhine. Even before the tensions in Rakhine peaked, some observers are drawing parallels with the months leading up to the deadly 2013 religious riots across Myanmar.

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