The Rohingyas have been protesting and rebelling for years now, however their rights are nowhere to equal to the rest of the citizens even though they have been living in Myanmar and calling it their home for longer than one can imagine. Yet, the government is intolerant of who they are as a community. For them worshipping a different God has become a bigger crime than murder, theft, and rape itself.
Intolerance is defined as unwillingness to let other people act in a different way or hold different opinions from you. Basically, intolerance is being close minded towards accepting diverse views or beliefs. We see and sometimes even experience it in various forms today. It could be with gender, or racial, or even ethnic. The point being that it doesn’t matter which category two people are different. What matters is that at the end of the day, we are always different in some way or the other and until we find a way to accept that, we won’t be able to achieve well, tolerance.
One of the biggest and perhaps most talked about intolerances in the world today, is religious intolerance. Whether you’re part of a majority or a minority, discrimination is prevalent everywhere. Maybe some communities experience it less and some more but that doesn’t make it okay in any way.
Case study – The Rohingya Muslims
The Rohingya Muslims are one of the main ethnic minorities in Myanmar but Myanmar, being a buddhist country doesn’t recognize them as citizens of the country and terms them as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. There has always been a tension between the two communities and before August 2017, there were already around 307,500 Rohingya refugees living in camps, makeshift settlements and with host communities. A further 687,000 were estimated to have arrived since August 2017. At least 6,700 Rohingya, were killed in the month after the violence broke out. The Myanmar military also raped and abused women and girls. The Rohingya refugees spread over to countries like Bangladesh and India. Unfortunately, even after settling in camps in Bangladesh, the amount of difficulties didn’t end. The monsoon rains shattered their camps, and forced them to build their homes once again. Young girls were sexually assaulted and beaten which left them traumatized. Basic sanitation itself was hard to find in those camps.
This kind of war time violence seems inevitable but is caused only because some communities have faiths and religious beliefs which differ from other communities. The groups with majority believe that by spreading terror, they’ll be able to control the minorities and live in harmony but they fail to understand that violence is never the way to achieve something as vulnerable as peace. The Rohingyas have been protesting and rebelling for years now, however their rights are nowhere to equal to the rest of the citizens even though they have been living in Myanmar and calling it their home for longer than one can imagine. Yet, the government is intolerant of who they are as a community. For them worshipping a different God has become a bigger crime than murder, theft, and rape itself.
Although we read about this kind of brutal violence everyday in newspapers; hear about it on the radio; even write about it angrily on social media platforms, we fail to understand that it is acceptance they require from us and not anger. Religious intolerance is not something we can put as one of the sustainable goals for us to achieve by 2030. For it is something we aim to achieve in the process of fulfilling other goals such as peace and strong institutions or even reduced inequalities. Religion is something we have created, and it is not something that we can fix through programmes or treaties. It comes from within us. World peace will come when acceptance and tolerance is achieved. When we finally begin to understand that to attain world peace, all of us don’t need to have the same beliefs or views. We can worship several gods, be of various colours, and love different genders, yet still live in harmony. After all, we are the ones who are going to stay with each other even if the world falls apart.
Intolerance is the most socially acceptable form of egotism, for it permits us to assume superiority without personal boasting.
~Sydney J. Harris