An Open Letter from the Buddhist Community on Islamophobia

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.

In 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.

Signed,

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
Roshi Joan Halifax, Ph.D., Santa Fe, NM, USA
Charles Prebish, State College, PA, USA
William Aiken, Washington, DC, USA
Diana Winston, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Rev. Maia Zenyu Duerr, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Bodhipaksa, Newmarket, NH, USA
Rev. James Ishmael Ford, Providence, RI, USA
Michael Stone, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Shastri Ethan Nichtern, New York City, NY, USA
Lodro Rinzler, New York City, NY, USA
Georges Dreyfus, Williamstown, MA, USA
William F. Powell, Santa Rosa, CA, USA
Acharya Judith Simmer-Brown, Boulder, CO, USA
Lopon Rita Gross, Eau Claire, WI, USA
Gary Gach, San Francisco, CA, USA
Allan Badiner, Big Sur, CA, USA
Ven. Zenkei Blanche Hartman, San Francisco, CA, USA
Leigh Brasington, Oakland, CA, USA
Ken & Visakha Kawasaki, Swartz Creek, MI, USA
Gene Reeves, Chicago, IL, USA
Patrick Groneman, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Chip Hartranft, Lexington, MA, USA
Peter Schneider, Northridge, CA, USA
Bhikkhu Abhaya, Yangon, Yangon Region, MYANMAR
Rev. Wakoh Shannon Hickey, Alfred, NY, USA
Lewis BrightHeart Headrick, Loveland, CO, 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
Rev. Beth Kanji Goldring, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA
Chap. Mikel Ryuho Monnett, M.A., BCC, Columbus, OH, USA
Acharya Sujatin Johnson, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Rev. Josho Pat Phelan, Chapel Hill, NC, USA
Tomoe Moriya, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, JAPAN
Rev. Daishin Eric McCabe, Pennsdale, PA, USA
Rev. Patricia Dai-En Bennage, Pennsdale, PA, USA
Liz Roemer, Somerville, MA, USA
Kobutsu Malone-osho, Sedgwick, ME, USA
Rev. Alasdair Taisen Gordon-Finlayson, Liverpool, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Carole Craven, Mableton, GA, USA
Genko Kathy Blackman, Seattle, WA, USA
Ouyporn Khuankaew, Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai Province, THAILAND
Helen Hobart, Sacramento, CA, USA
Rev. Melissa Myozen Blacker, Worcester, MA, USA
Lama Rod Owens, Washington, DC, USA
Danielle Benoit, Berkeley, CA, USA
Reinhard Kunga Tuerk, Mechernich, North Rhine-Westphalia, GERMANY
Derek Rasmussen, Ottawa, ON, CANADA
Sarah Weintraub, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Rev. Meredith Garmon, Gainesville, FL, USA
Gyokuzan Steve Williamson, Belfast, Northern Ireland, UNITED KINGDOM
Dhammacari Upali (Dr. Chris Kang), Brisbane, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
Frank M. Tedesco, Largo, FL, USA
Anoki Casey, San Diego, CA, USA
Justin Whitaker, Bristol, England, UNITED KINGDOM
The Chenrezig Project, Yalaha, FL, USA
Vanissar Tarakali, Oakland, CA, USA
Jillaurie Crane, Venice, FL, USA
Wendy Ridley, Leeds, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Jundo Cohen, Tsukuba, Ibaraki, JAPAN
Seth Josephson, Columbus, OH, USA
Michelle Nicolle, Winston-Salem, NC, USA
Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu, Pugoda, Western Province, SRI LANKA
Rev. J. Sumitta Hudson, M.S.W., Butler, PA, USA
Ani Palmo Rybicki, Cleveland, OH, USA
William Harryman, M.S.C., N.C.C., Tucson, AZ, USA
Paisarn Likhitpreechakul, Bangkok, THAILAND
Dr. C.S. “Sam” Wu, Rosemead, CA, USA
Arun Gandhi, Rochester, NY, USA

Claire Michalewicz, Halifax, Nova Scotia, CANADA
Martin Whelan, Slingo, County Slingo, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
John Pappas, Rapid City, SD, USA
Lesley Grant, Fairfax, CA, USA
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, 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
Rev. Michele Kaishin Tae, Boise, ID, USA
David Coleman, Kilkenny, County Kilkenny, REPUBLIC OF IRELAND
Rev. Jim Hokyo Dunn, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Penny Nakatsu, San Francisco, CA, USA
Robert McConnachie, Uithoorn, North Holland, THE NETHERLANDS
Shelly Griska, Monroe, GA, USA
Steven Ganci, St. Petersburg, FL, USA
Ettianne Anshin, Sydney, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
Ericson AF Proper, Naples, FL, USA
Jaime Heiku McLeod, Lewiston, ME, USA
Tiffany Puett, Austin, TX, USA
Connie Nelson Ahlberg, Burnsville, MN, USA
Jodi House, Windsor, Ontario, CANADA
James Cox, Omaha, NE, USA
Tracey McFadden, Elburn, IL, USA
Jim Hsiung, Taipei, Taiwan, REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Samuel Harmon, San Francisco, CA, USA
Aron Weinberg, Austin, TX, USA
Darcie Price-Wallace, Chicago, IL, USA
Dr. Juanita Rice, Fairmont, Nebraska, USA
Chaplain Nathaniel Vose, M.Div., San Rafael, CA, USA
Dave Lavis, Caloundra, Queensland, AUSTRALIA
Petra J. Drysdale, Fairbanks, AK, USA
Akasa Skye, Rosemead, CA, USA
Damchoe Wangmo, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, CANADA
Susan Carol Terris, Richmond, CA, USA
Emily Rana, Tampa, FL, USA
Andres Montano, Guatemala City, GUATEMALA
Shian-Ling Keng, Durham, NC, USA
Kathleen Clark, Murfreesboro, TN, USA
Khrystene Dalecki, Kingswood, New South Wales, AUSTRALIA
Zach Kadro, Seattle, WA, USA
Leakthina Ollier, Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh, CAMBODIA
Andrew Furst, North Reading, MA, USA
Hashir Kunnummal, Kerala, Malapuram, INDIA
Alan Cossitt, Beaverton, OR, USA
Bill Foreman, San Diego, CA, USA
Barbara Bourrier-Lacroix, Winnipeg, Manitoba, CANADA
Stephen C. Schwichow, San Francisco, CA, USA
Doug Gorman, Vancouver, WA, USA
Maggie LeFlore, Ph.D., Poughkeepsie, NY, USA
Alison Jones, Liverpool, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Sander Hartveld, Waldbröl, Nordrhein-Westfalen, GERMANY
Dosia Paclawskyj, Reisterstown, MD, USA
David Stupples, Atherstone, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Levanah Ruthschild, Baltimore, MD, USA
Jnanamati Williams, London, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM
Dana Warner Fisher, Greensboro, NC, USA
Thijs Buelens, Leuven, Flemish Brabant, BELGIUM
Rev. Kaspalita Thompson, Malvern, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Gregory Southworth, Arlington, TX, USA
Deb Greene, Greensboro, NC, USA
Adrienne Baksa, Atenas, Alajuela, COSTA RICA
Sharon Meho Petit, East Wenatchee, WA, USA
Grace Jessen, Milwaukee, WI, USA
John Pellecchia, North Brunswick, NJ, USA
Dr. Angela Jansen, Stony Point, NC, USA
Mohamedally Vahanvaty, Vancouver, British Columbia, CANADA
Shirley C. Kane, Portsmouth, VA, USA
Mike Lowe, West Kirby, England, UNITED KINGDOM
David Christy, M.Div., San Jose, CA, USA
Dieter Mueller, Frankfurt, Hesse, GERMANY
Matthew Letten, Oxford, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Margaret Reishin Murray, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Kaung-Myat Aye, Galashiels, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM
Susan Singh, Tulsa, OK, USA
Cristina Moon, Bloomington, IN, USA
Brad Hunter, London, Ontario, CANADA
Christopher Miller, Lexington, KY, USA
John Robert Kernodle, III, Greensboro, NC, USA
Brian Blueskye, Palm Springs, CA, USA
Monica Sanford, El Monte, CA, USA
Aleksandra Jurukoska, Skopje, REPUBLIC OF MACEDONIA
Edmund Murray, Tiffin, OH, USA
Eric Alan Hansen, Alexandria, VA, USA
Rocci Hildum, Wenatchee, WA, USA
Charles Nuckles, Phoenix, AZ, USA
Phyllis Culham, Annapolis, MD, USA
Dan Baker, Kendall Park, NJ, USA
SoGen Ralf Boeck, Monzingen, Rhineland-Palatinate, GERMANY
Mustafa Kitabwalla, A.I.B., Livermore, CA, USA
Nadine Bucich, Hillsborough, NC, USA
Chenxing Han, Berkeley, CA, USA
Jeffrey Dillon, Carson, NM, USA
Tom Ramsay, Terlingua, TX, USA
Lisa Gades, Aurora, IL, USA
Beryl Mallinson, Duncan, British Columbia, CANADA
Philip Kienholz, Peterborough, Ontario, CANADA
Ed Wright, Encino, CA, USA
Claire Barnes, Kuala Lumpur, Federal Territories, MALAYSIA
Jeffrey Colin, La Crescenta-Montrose, CA, USA
Linda Bailly, Albuquerque, NM, USA
Jennifer Stevens, M.A., C.T., Janesville, WI, USA
Kris Garfield, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Mary Hart, Picton, Ontario, CANADA
Csilla Torok, Bainbridge Island, WA, USA
Halbert Thomas, Cincinnati, OH, USA
James Shawvan, San Diego, CA, USA
Emmanuel Crespo, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Steve Carr, Reading, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Tenzin James Johnson, Muskegon, MI, USA
Dug Corpolongo, Albuquerque, NM, USA
Shawn Dokan Edwards, Dallas, TX, USA
Jeffrey Feddersen, Clemson, SC, USA
Michael Shinyo Lawrence, Sensei, Canyon, TX, USA
Arthur Drucker, Sunland, CA, USA
Sina Chau-Pech, Sacramento, CA, USA
Katherine Wolfe, Portland, OR, USA
Eric Estes, Missoula, MT, USA
John Emmer, Kandy, Central Province, SRI LANKA
Brian J. Kearns, South Amboy, NJ, USA
Heather M. Crone, Seattle, WA, USA
Jon Fish, Chatsworth, CA, USA
Wilson Roberto Theodoro Filho, Brasília, Federal District, BRAZIL
Roy Money, New Haven, CT, USA
Craig Paup, Burbank, CA, USA
Molly Sokai Gorden, Boulder, CO, USA
Jyoti Chhabria, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Maria Hall, Beverly Hills, CA, USA
Stephen Rhymer, Edmond, OK, USA
Meg Sweetland Baker, Kendall Park, NJ, USA
Emmet Bondurant, Clearwater, FL, USA
Fred Cohen, Toronto, Ontario, CANADA
Alison Marlowe, Dallas, TX, USA
Cathy Parsa, Huntington Beach, CA, USA
Daniel C. Brown, Beaverton, OR, USA
Alan Crawford, St. Helens, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Bob Zane, Woodbridge, VA, USA
Trevor Loy, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Kris Lee, Singapore, SINGAPORE
Gary Donnelly, Liverpool, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Jnaseh Santi, San Diego, CA, USA
Parker Kelly, National City, CA, USA
Teri Tucker, Tacoma, WA, USA
Catherine Williamson, Ojo Caliente, NM, USA
J. Brian Waddington, Valencia, Negros Oriental, PHILIPPINES
Spade Wei, Singapore, SINGAPORE
Jon Underwood, London, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Alan M. Dower, Hayward, CA, USA
Roger F. Barriteau, Columbus, OH, USA
Annee Griffiths, Anglesey, Wales, UNITED KINGDOM
Martin Rathje, Maintal, Main-Kinzig, GERMANY
Andrew M. Vahldieck, Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Joan Hammond, Khobar, Easter Province, SAUDI ARABIA
Har-Prakash Khalsa, Owen Sound, Ontario, CANADA
David Kondrat, Ph.D., Tampa, FL, USA
Margo Kelly, Washington, D.C., USA
Vicente Roybal, Santa Fe, NM, USA
Peter Palko, Budapest, Central Hungary, HUNGARY
Tom Hitchins, Steuben, Maine, USA
Willow Million, Los Gatos, CA, USA
Jim Hasse, Walnut Creek, CA, USA
Jez Reid, Grange over Sands, England, UNITED KINGDOM
Mike Watson, Charlotte, NC, USA
Susan Heller Fisher, Hauppauge, NY, USA
Richard Tackett, Casa Grande, AZ, USA
Michael John Smith, Ljubljana, Ljubljana Basin, SLOVENIA

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