WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama urged the president of Myanmar on Monday to halt violence against a Muslim minority but praised economic and political reforms in the formerly pariah nation that is emerging as a U.S. ally in China's backyard.
During the first visit to the White House in 47 years by a leader of the Southeast Asian nation, Obama called for an end to the killings of Rohingya Muslims in western Myanmar's Rakhine state.
Reformist Myanmar President Thein Sein vowed to resolve ethnic conflicts and bring perpetrators to justice.
"I also shared with President Sein our deep concern about communal violence that has been directed at Muslim communities inside Myanmar. The displacement of people, the violence directed towards them needs to stop," Obama said.
At least 192 people died last year in violence between Buddhists in Rakhine and Rohingya Muslims, who are denied citizenship by Myanmar. Most of the victims, and the 140,000 people made homeless in the attacks, were Muslims. (Read more)
Many people have been accusing President Obama of having a double standard with Christian and Muslim victims of violence after his recent statements about the Rohingya Muslims of Myanmar, usually alleging that he does not respond the same way to anti-Coptic violence in Egypt. Both Copts and Rohingyas are often subject to violence that results in injuries, deaths, damage to property, and displacement, and the violence against them is also mostly one-sided, so one should expect the President to respond in a similar manner to the plights of both Coptic Christians and Rohingya Muslims.
|It's more eloquent and less brain-melting when I say it.|
Statement by the Press Secretary on Violence in Egypt
The President is deeply concerned about the violence in Egypt that has led to a tragic loss of life among demonstrators and security forces. The United States expresses our condolences to the families and loved ones of all who were killed or injured, and stands with the Egyptian people in this painful and difficult time. Now is a time for restraint on all sides so that Egyptians can move forward together to forge a strong and united Egypt. As the Egyptian people shape their future, the United States continues to believe that the rights of minorities - including Copts - must be respected, and that all people have the universal rights of peaceful protest and religious freedom. We also note Prime Minister Sharaf's call for an investigation and appeal to all parties to refrain from violence. These tragic events should not stand in the way of timely elections and a continued transition to democracy that is peaceful, just and inclusive.
The notion that the events in Maspero were some sort of mutual conflict in which the Copts had just as much fault as the military and the Muslim attackers is actually based entirely on anti-Christian propaganda disseminated by the Egyptian state media and repeated by the Western media. All the accusations against the Copts were proven to be false shortly afterwards--for example, it turns out that the Copts were not responsible for any deaths, even though it was initially reported that they killed three soldiers. Even the Western media corrected the reports it released. Coptic-American scholar and activist Raymond Ibrahim gives a concise summary of what really happened: the peaceful Coptic demonstrators were initially attacked by Muslims, then the military attacked them, then they fought back, then they were subject to clearly hate-motivated attacks because of the lies of the state media. The Copts acted in self-defense. The Maspero massacre was, simply stated, anti-Christian violence and should be condemned as such.
So the President relied on disproven anti-Christian propaganda and condemned the Copts equally with their attackers. It should be noted that besides a few passing mentions of their plight, he has never released any statements clearly calling for an end to anti-Christian violence in Egypt.
While Rohingya Muslims occasionally carry out acts of retribution, they are infrequent in comparison to Buddhist anti-Muslim attacks in Burma. However, the President could have easily equally condemned the victims of anti-Muslim violence with their attackers by the logic he used in the Maspero massacre statement if he had relied on Buddhist anti-Muslim propaganda, which frequently includes charges of rape and murder of Buddhist women that may or may not be true.
Yes, the raging Internet commenters are correct.