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An Open Letter from the Buddhist Community on Islamophobia

4 August 2012 General 19 Comments Email This Post Email This Post

By Danny Fisher on July 31, 2012

As disciples of the Buddha who live in the West, we would like to take the holy month of Ramadan as an opportunity to express our growing concern about Islamophobia, both within our governments and within the Buddhist community worldwide.

In North America and Europe, the past decade has seen peaceful Muslim communities targeted by hate crimes, police profiling, and even challenges to their basic human rights of free religion and free assembly. The New York Times reports that the New York City Police Department infiltrated peaceful Muslim groups across the Northeastern United States for indiscriminate surveillance. The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has faced vandalism, arson, and legal challenges opposing their new mosque, while France and Belgium have outlawed wearing niqāb in public over concerns about immigration, the status of women, and the diluting of European culture.

In the wider Buddhist community there have been media reports of Buddhist leaders—including monastics—endorsing human rights abuses against Muslim ethnic groups. For example, The Independent reports that Buddhist monastic organizations in Burma are blocking aid shipments to refugee camps for ethnically Rohingya Muslims in the western state of Rakhine. The article also accuses monastic associations of encouraging ethnically Rakhine Buddhists not to associate with Rohingya. Ethnic tensions have resulted in human rights abuses and loss of life on both sides of this conflict.

Meanwhile, Newsweek reports that the Thai government has set up military encampments inside Buddhist temples—even using some of them as torture chambers—in their ongoing fight against a violent Malay Muslim insurgency in the southern states of Patani, Yala, and Narathiwat. More disturbingly, Newsweek reports the Thai government is paying ethnic Thais to resettle in majority-Malay areas in order to dilute the Malay population. Once again, there have been many human rights abuses and much loss of life on both sides of the conflict.

n this time of conflict, we believe that the life and teachings of the Buddha can be a shining example for the world. He taught us to practice mutual respect among all people without prejudice, to work for the mutual benefit of all beings, and to try to solve our problems without resorting to violence. In those rare instances where violence is necessary, he taught us to practice restraint and to protect innocent lives. It is in this spirit that we are writing.

In our own countries, we ask law enforcement agencies to stop targeting Muslim communities with indiscriminate surveillance and profiling. And we call on Americans to see their Muslims neighbors as fellow citizens, bound together with them through the shared values of democracy, equality, and freedom.

In the wider Buddhist community, we ask our fellow Buddhists to refrain from using the Dharma to support nationalism, ethnic conflict, and Islamophobia. We believe that these values are antithetical to the Buddha’s teachings on loving-kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy, and equanimity.

The vast majority of Muslims the world over are peaceful, law-abiding people who share much the same dreams, hopes, and aspirations as their non-Muslim neighbors. They are our friends, our relatives, our colleagues, our neighbors, and our fellow citizens. Most importantly, they are our fellow sentient beings, all of whom, the Buddha taught, have loved and cared for us in the past. We stand with them during this holy month of Ramadan and denounce Islamophobia unequivocally.


Joshua Eaton, M.Div., Boston, MA, USA

Rev. Danny Fisher, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Rod Meade Sperry, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Sharon Salzberg, Barre, MA, USA
Mushim (Patricia) Ikeda, Oakland, CA, USA
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Carmel, NY, USA
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, San Diego, CA, USA
Charles Prebish, State College, PA, USA
William Aiken, Washington, DC, USA
Rev. James Ishmael Ford, Providence, RI, USA
Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Boulder, CO, USA
Shastri Ethan Nichtern, New York City, NY, USA
Lodro Rinzler, New York City, NY, USA
Lopon Rita Gross, Eau Claire, WI, USA
Rev. Maia Zenyu Duerr, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Gary Gach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Allan Badiner, Big Sur, CA, USA
Rev. Wakoh Shannon Hickey, Alfred, NY, USA
Koshin Paley Ellison, New York City, NY, USA
Steve Kanji Ruhl, State College, PA, USA
Martin Aylward, Cubjac, Aquitaine, FRANCE
Karma Yonten Gyatso, Richmond Hill, Ontario, CANADA
Arun Gandhi, Rochester, NY, USA

Claire Michalewicz, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Martin Whelan, Slingo, County Slingo, IRELAND
Susan Wirawan, Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Luke McKean, Melbourne, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Miguel Marcos, Madrid, Community of Madrid, SPAIN
Catherine DeLorey, Boston, MA, USA
Stephen Hale, Muir Beach, CA, USA
Rik Center, San Francisco, CA, USA
Kris Freedain, Laguna Niguel, CA, USA
Rev. Michael Tran, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Brant Henne, Swampscott, MA, USA
Craig Thomas, York, PA, USA
Zoey Roy, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Angela Gunn, Savannah, GA, USA
Laurie Knowlton, Boothbay, ME, USA
Jessica Bizub, Milwaukee, WI, USA
Robin Reed, San Francisco, CA, USA
Prof. Kristopher Short, Cranston, RI, USA
Vivien Phung, Laguna Niguel, CA, USA
Jean Lamont, State College, PA, USA
Kathleen de Vries, Napa, CA, USA
Peter Muller, New York City, NY, USA
Dee Levy, Swindon, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Sandra Madera, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Chaplain Karen Morris, M.Div., Johnson City, TN, USA
Anda Peterson, St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Matthew Gegenhuber, Hawkins, WI, USA
Dean Hill, Albany, NY, USA
Karla Passalacqua, Atlanta, GA, USA
Ven. Hue Hai, Alhambra, CA, USA
Terry Evans, Bangor, North Wales, UNITED KINGDOM
Jim Hasse, Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Karma Sonam Lhamo, Penllyn, PA, USA
Geoff Haynes, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
Lynnea Bylund, Dana Point, CA, USA
Victor Spence, Edinburgh, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM
Upāsaka Raymond M. McDonald, La Verne, CA, USA
Imtiaaz Gafoor, Johannesburg, Gauteng, SOUTH AFRICA
Nisar Ahmed, Karachi, Sindh, PAKISTAN
David Cabrera, Hollywood, FL, USA
Rev. Michael W. A. Henderson, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Christina Omorochoe, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Kelly Hills, Ardmore, PA, USA
Thom Stromer, Baltimore, MD, USA
Roger K. James, Florianópolis, Santa Catarina, BRAZIL
Stephanie Cianfriglia, Endicott, NY, USA
John Christensen, Chicago, IL, USA
Tanis Moore, Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
Nancy A. Jefferis, Santee, CA, USA

Original post: An Open Letter from the Buddhist Community on Islamophobia


  1. Given the huge amounts of persecution around the world by muslims I assume these people have written open letters about that too.

  2. Here is what militant islam thinks of other cultures. Islamaphobia will stop when there is an end to militant islam.

  3. Jane, why don’t you take your hate somewhere else? Just your words exude your hate for your fellow man. There are evil people within every society and religion who represent their own philosophy to abuse others. I pray that God will open your mind and heart.

  4. raidah, I asked if these buddhists had written any letters about other persecutions

  5. Interesting that the Buddhists are coming forward here, the muslims don’t accord them even the crummy show of respect they pretend for the Jews and Christians.

  6. Thank you to the Buddhist community for standing up against Islamophobia.
    I appreciate the time and concern. I was in awe of the number of people who signed this letter. Thank you. Thank you.

  7. Gracious of the Buddhist considering the Taliban destroyed one of their most ancient and sacred temples at Bamiyan Afganistan. Taliban means students. Students of what, I wonder?

  8. Glad to see the larger Buddhist community does not approve of the atrocities of some of these violent Buddhists. As a Muslim, I condemn acts of terrorism as well, although I think Muslims are disproportionately represented as the faces of such acts.

  9. “Taliban means students. Students of what, I wonder?”

    Students of islam, they are the products of madrassas which force kids to waste their childhood learning to memorise the koran. Which they then, we are told, go on to misunderstand to such a level that they think women are property and murder is what their god demands. It’s funny how learning the koran leads to such misaprehensions.

  10. Fireside,

    Muslims did destroy sacred Buddhas in Afghanistan. The Taliban filmed the destruction and put it on television.Yet no Buddhists rioted or killed anyone. This is the same Afghanistan where Muslims rioted and killed people because an old man in Florida burned his own copy of the Koran.

  11. Very good, Hera.

  12. Don’t ever fall for an Islamist’s facade of peace. If they had the courage and the character to challenge their KAFIROPHOBIC doctrine, they wouldn’t be facing these tough questions today.

    Islamophobia ? Well Kafirophobia started in 7th century and developed into Kafir hatred violating many nations and cultures through Islam’s ruthless march across centuries and regions.

    All practicing muslims love sharia. That pits them directly against the US constitution. Wake up and save the US from becoming another Islam infected crippled nation.

  13. Yes, Jane and Hera, not sure how you read my comment but I think we all agree. It never ceases to amaze how alqaeda, taliban and other muslims spend their days plotting how to kill the people they want to govern.

  14. Suckshito,

    Indo-mongoloid hybrid, I have found you quite a few days later. No prob, just wait to be entered a hot tungsten carbide rod into your hairy, worm infested anus from me.

    The word kaffir means unbeliever. It can be ascribed to anyone–Muslims and non-Muslims alike. A non-Muslim, for example, say has kept his/her valuables to a Muslim. The Muslim misuses the things for his/her own good or totally denies any knowledge of the things when demanded to return by the non-Muslim. That Muslim is 100% a kaffir, as he has shown utmost dishonesty, a feature totally unaccepted in any faith, including Islam.

    The word kaffir has many cognates in other languages. In Hebrew, it is Goyim. In Christianity, Infidel. In your BDSM Hinduism, it has some more—Mlechchha, Yavana, Rakshasa, Anarya (Non-Aryan). If you want, you can find lots of examples of violence against them.

    In Exodus 17:8-16, we are told that the Amalekites “came and fought with Israel, and that the Lord was so furious with the Amalekites that He swore to have war with Amalek from generation to generation.

    Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword. (Matthew 10:34)

    I came to bring fire to the earth and how I wish it were already kindled! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. (Luke 12:49-51)

    And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing. Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one. For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end. And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough. (Luke 22:35-38)

    In the Mahabharata, Krishna dupes the Kouravas. There was a valiant young warrior named Ashvaththama. Hence, there was an elephant also of the same name. When the battle of Kurukshetra was going on, the Elephant was kiiled, not the warrior. But Krishna moves into the battlefield and shout “Ashvaththama is killed” and says in inaudible voice “the elephant”; but the damage was done. The party fighting for the Kouravas suffers a huge panic and is defeated thinking their best warrior to be dead. There is the racism. The Dravidians are shown as demons called “asuras”. Indara is named as Purandar as he was deft in destroying the “Puras” or forts of Dravidians. In another instance, when both the demons and the Gods (!?) were draining the seas, then the nectar of immortality came up. Krishna assumed the form of a sexy and lascivious woman to charm the demons and snatch that nectar.

  15. One thing about this letter that is not so good is that it says “Islamophobia”, when what it means is – I hope – “Muslimophobia”. It is true that the Buddha never expressed any hatred towards any group of living beings, but it is also true that he made a very clear distinction between right and wrong view, and from a Buddhist perspective, both Islam and Christianity are very clearly based on wrong view.

  16. “Indo-mongoloid hybrid, I have found you quite a few days later. No prob, just wait to be entered a hot tungsten carbide rod into your hairy, worm infested anus from me.” lmao. tungsten carbide? you can’t just use a red hot “steel” poker?

    so your prophet jesus came to bring “the sword, fire and division” throughout the earth? anolther reason islam isn’t “the religion of peace”.

  17. It seems like most of the people that signed the letter were from the United States. Its easy to sign letters when your not in areas with problems. Not that I agree with the Buddhists, given their actions, but I have also not experienced the things they have.

  18. Of course there is peace between Islam and Buddhism. Because In predominant Islamic countries no Buddhism is allowed. Except Malaysia. These people move into Western democratic countries to enjoy much better treatment than their motherlands. Instead of feeling grateful and work hard to over come stereotypes, they just reinforce it by angry protest, religious intolerance and violent rehtorics. Funny in their own muslim state they would have been killed for similar actions.

    Maybe Western Buddhists should stop blinded inside their comfortable bubble of good fortune and look at the real world?

    People still support the Arab Spring? Where secular dictatorship gets replaced by theocracy??!!

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