Muslims Are Being Massacred in Burma, and Western Media’s Coverage Is Shocking
Over the past week, social media users have been sharing status updates and videos, pertaining to the treatment of Muslims in Burma. Indeed, the videos often contain footage of the horrid forms of torture (they are not shared in this article because they are extremely graphic) that Muslims in Burma are facing. Accordingly, the status updates condemn the general treatment of Muslims in Burma, and seek to bring attention to the mass killings of said Muslim group.
According to Human Rights Watch, the Muslims of Burma are stateless, and have been refused any official citizenship from the country. Indeed, Richard Weir, who covers Myanmar for Human Rights Watch, has stated that this lack of citizenship status “bleeds into all aspects of the Muslim groups’ lives: they face restrictions on freedom of movement; their rights to health, education and religion; deprivation of their livelihoods; and constant harassment by security forces.”
In other words, the Muslims of Burma are not only dying in horrendous ways and in shocking numbers, they are also living under a system of racism, inequality, and apartheid. Although this has been going on since 2012, the situation has gotten dramatically worse for Burma’s Muslims over the past few months.
Something, however, needs to be dully noted. Firstly, the international community – or more specifically Western governments and media entities- have yet to describe these actions as acts of terror. Indeed, those countries that seem ever so ready to condemn Middle Eastern countries for having terrorists organizations, or for possessing terrorist sleeping cells, are now just silent. It seems it can only be terrorism when it is done by Muslims, not to Muslims.
While I am aware that the situation in Burma – according to international legal vernacular- is better described by terms like “ethnic cleansing” or even “apprehended genocide”, I think this type of language represents the problem. I mean, does anyone honestly think that if these mass murders were perpetrated by Muslims against members of any other religious group, then terms like genocide and ethic cleansing would apply, or even retain a degree of relevance? Or would the terms that apply in this hypothetical situation be “terrorist”, “Islam”, and “radical ideology”?
While I am sincerely disheartened by what is going in Burma, I am also taken aback by the kind of coverage provided by large media entities, like The Economist, and CNN. These entities are much more concerned with the technicalities of weather or not what is happening in Burma legally fits the definition of genocide. If Muslims were the perpetrators of these crimes, the verdict would already be in by this point.
Islam would have already been called a religion of terror, and its followers would have been called barbaric a million times over. Moreover, Muslims living in Western countries would have likely faced an increased risk of being victims of hate crimes, if not victims of institutionalized and racist governmental legislation altogether. This inequality in discourse is not a mere coincidence.