Myanmar – A nationalist Monk in Myanmar appreciated the U.S citizens for selecting Donald Trump as President.
Wirathu, a leader of the Myanmar Buddhist organization known as Ma Ba Tha, expressed the similarities about his views and Trump’s views on Islam.
Trump’s campaign was filled with anti-Muslim rhetoric and proposals that included banning Muslims from entering the country and heightening surveillance of mosques.
“We were blamed by the world, but we are just protecting our people and country,” Wirathu said. “… The world singled us out as narrow-minded. But as people from the country that is the grandfather of democracy and human rights elected Donald Trump, who is similar to me in prioritizing nationalism, there will be less finger-pointing from the international community.”
He even floated the idea of cooperating with nationalist groups in the U.S.
“In America, there can be organizations like us who are protecting against the dangers of Islamization. Those organizations can come to organizations in Myanmar to get suggestions or discuss,” he said in an interview at his monastery in Mandalay on Nov. 12.
Wirathu has been known for inciting violence with hate-filled, anti-Islamic rhetoric in this Southeast Asian, Buddhist-majority country.
Buddhist-led riots left more than 200 people dead in 2012 and forced hundreds of thousands more to flee their homes, most of them Muslim Rohingya in Rakhine state. Anti-Rohingya sentiment still remain high in Myanmar.
Rohingya Muslis are predicted to have immigrated illegally from nearby Bangladesh, though many Rohingya families have lived in Myanmar for generations.
At the same time, Wirathu’s influence has weakened in the past year. He threw his support behind the military-backed government ahead of elections in November 2015, only to see the former ruling party fall to Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy in a landslide.
In July, a senior NLD official in Yangon said that Ma Ba Tha, also known as the Committee to Protect Race and Religion, was not needed.
“Currently, we are waiting and looking at the situation as this government has only been here a short time and they don’t know how to manage,” Wirathu said. “So we are not doing anything like campaigning or protesting to impact the government. But we will hold meetings, issue statements, help in our role.”
Rohingya activists say innocent villagers are being killed, but the government says it is only fighting “violent attackers.”
Hundreds of Rohingya and Myanmar troops have been killed in northern Rakhine since suspected militants attacked border posts last month, killing nine police officers.