| Inventing "The Other"|
|Fear And Loathing|
The 969 Movement is a violent nationalist movement in Burma and yet another religious excuse for attacking people who are different. In this case, it is the Buddhist majority who don't like the existence of a small minority (somewhere between 5 to 10%) of Muslims (i.e., the Rohingya people), which they see as an Islamic expansion into "their" country. They primarily hold nationalist demonstrations, but they are also believed to be connected to the many violent attacks on Muslims, Muslim-owned businesses, and Muslim communities that we have seen in Burma in recent years. The death toll is in the hundreds. Their leader is a Buddhist monk named Ashin Wirathu.
The "969" is a Buddhist symbol signifying the Three Jewels of Buddhism — the 9 virtues of Buddha, the 6 virtues of his Dharma, and the 9 virtues of Buddhist monks. As the movement sees it, 969 is supposed to be the cosmological opposite of 786, an Islamic symbol; 969ers, noticing 7+8+6 = 21, think 786 is a secret message that Muslims intend to conquer Burma in the 21st century. "786" is commonly used by South Asian Muslims and is derived from the phrase, "Bismillahir-Rahmanir-Rahim", meaning "In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful".