MARYLAND - Tibetan spiritual leader The Dalai Lama has decried Buddhist attacks against Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka, appealing to monks to end hostile campaigns against Muslim minorities.
Killing people in the name of religion is really very sad, unthinkable, very sad," the Dalai Lama told an audience at the University of Maryland at the start of a US tour on Tuesday, May 7, Reuters reported.
Nowadays even Buddhists now involved, in Burma and Sri Lanka also. Buddhist monks ... destroy Muslim mosques or Muslim families. Really very sad."
Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka have been facing repeated attacks by Buddhists in recent months.
Hundreds of thousands of Muslims have been forced to flee their homes in western Burma since June after attacks from Buddhist mobs on their areas.
The anti-Muslim violence spread to central Burma earlier this year, leaving scores of people dead.
A Reuters investigation found that radical Buddhist monks had been actively involved in the violence and in spreading anti-Muslim material around the country.
In Sri Lanka, Muslims have come under a series of attacks championed by a radical Buddhist group called "Bodu Bala Sena" or Buddhist Force.
The group has campaigned among Buddhists to boycott Muslim businesses, forcing Muslims to drop their halal label to ease tension in the country.
The hardline group has also championed a campaign for the demolition of a 10th century mosque in Kuragala.
The campaign came months after dozens of Buddhist monks converged on a small Islamic center in Colombo's suburb of Dehiwala to demand its closure.
Last year, a number of Buddhist monks disrupted Muslim prayer services in the village of Dambulla, claiming that the mosque, built in 1962, was illegal.
Weeks later, monks drafted a threatening letter aimed at Muslims in the nearby town of Kurunegala, demanding Islamic prayer services there be halted.
The Dalai Lama appealed to Buddhist monks to end campaigns against Muslims.
"I pray for them (the monks) to think of the face of Buddha," who had been a protector of Muslims, he told his audience.
"I think it is very sad.
The exiled spiritual leader said that if the Buddha is there, he will protect Muslims.
"When they develop some sort of negative emotions toward the Muslim community, then please think (of) the face of Buddha," the Nobel Peace laureate said.
The Dalai Lama has no authority over Buddhists in Sri Lanka or Burma who follow a different branch of Buddhism called Theravada.
China brands the Dalai Lama, who fled into exile to India in 1959 after an abortive uprising against Chinese rule of Tibet, as a separatist.
The Dalai Lama says he is merely seeking more autonomy for his Himalayan homeland.
This is not the first time The Dalai Lama speaks in the defense of Islam and Muslims against the stereotypes of the religion.
Last year, he called for not judging Islam from the practices of some individuals, calling for promoting harmony between followers of different religions.
In 2010, the spiritual Buddhist leader described Islam as a great, often misunderstood religion, calling for not stereotyping it for the ill doings of those who do not represent the peaceful faith.He also said that the Islamic concept of Jihad has been widely misunderstood and that Islam is a religion of compassion.