Archive for the ‘Buddhism’ Category

Thai Brewery’s Stock Listing Seen as Affront to Buddhism

October 30, 2008


By Tim Johnston
Washington Post Foreign Service
Thursday, October 30, 2008; Page A19

BANGKOK, Oct. 29 — Thai Beverages, the brewer of Thailand’s best-selling Chang Beer, has found itself straddling the uncomfortable point where markets and morals collide.

ThaiBev is trying to get a listing on the Stock Exchange of Thailand (SET) — its second attempt in three years — but as happened the first time around, it is running into heavy opposition from campaigners who argue that such a listing would encourage alcohol consumption.

Opponents of the listing handed a letter of protest to the Finance Ministry on Wednesday, and about 100 demonstrators held a rally outside the stock exchange Monday, some of them carrying signs of opposition.

Demonstrators say that if the company is listed, it would be in the interest of shareholders to encourage alcohol consumption, something that goes against the Buddhist principles of many Thai people.

But the volume of protest against the listing is substantially quieter than in 2005, when ThaiBev last attempted to get into the exchange. Mass protests forced it to withdraw its application, although subsequently it listed on the Singapore Stock Exchange.

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China tightens grip on Muslims in Xinjiang

October 19, 2008

The grand mosque that draws thousands of Muslims each week in this oasis town has all the usual trappings of piety: dusty wool carpets on which to kneel in prayer, a row of turbans and skullcaps for men without head wear, a wall niche facing the holy city of Mecca in the Arabian desert.

But large signs posted by the front door list edicts that are more Communist Party decrees than Koranic doctrines.

The imam’s sermon at Friday prayers must run no longer than a half-hour, the rules say. Prayer in public areas outside the mosque is forbidden. Residents of Khotan are not allowed to worship at mosques outside of town.

One rule on the wall says that government workers and nonreligious people may not be “forced” to attend services at the mosque – a generous wording of a law that prohibits government workers and Communist Party members from going at all.

“Of course this makes people angry,” said a teacher in the mosque courtyard, who would give only a partial name, Muhammad, for fear of government retribution. “Excitable people think the government is wrong in what it does. They say that government officials who are Muslims should also be allowed to pray.”
To be a practicing Muslim in the vast autonomous region of northwestern China called Xinjiang is to live under an intricate series of laws and regulations intended to control the spread and practice of Islam, the predominant religion among the Uighurs, a Turkic people uneasy with Chinese rule.

The edicts touch on every facet of a Muslim’s way of life. Official versions of the Koran are the only legal ones. Imams may not teach the Koran in private, and studying Arabic is allowed only at special government schools.

Two of Islam’s five pillars – the sacred fasting month of Ramadan and the pilgrimage to Mecca called the hajj – are also carefully controlled. Students and government workers are compelled to eat during Ramadan, and the passports of Uighurs have been confiscated across Xinjiang to force them to join government-run hajj tours rather than travel illegally to Mecca on their own.

Government workers are not permitted to practice Islam, which means the slightest sign of devotion, a head scarf on a woman, for example, could lead to a firing.

The Chinese government, which is officially atheist, recognizes five religions – Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Taoism and Buddhism – and tightly regulates their administration and practice.

Its oversight in Xinjiang, though, is especially vigilant because it worries about separatist activity in the region.

Some officials contend that insurgent groups in Xinjiang pose one of the biggest security threats to China, and the government says the “three forces” of separatism, terrorism and religious extremism threaten to destabilize the region. But outside scholars of Xinjiang and terrorism experts argue that heavy-handed tactics like the restrictions on Islam will only radicalize more Uighurs.

Many of the rules have been on the books for…

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China Condemns Pro-Tibet Protests World-Wide

March 17, 2008
By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writers

BEIJING – China accused Tibetan supporters of the Dalai Lama of attacking its embassies around the world, vowing Monday to protect its territory as it clamped down on anti-government protests in Tibet.

Tibetan monks shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi March ...
Tibetan monks shout slogans during a protest in New Delhi March 17, 2008. China said on Monday it had shown great restraint in the face of violent protests by Tibetans, which it said were orchestrated by followers of the Dalai Lama seeking to wreck the Beijing Olympics in August.REUTERS/Adnan Abidi (INDIA)

The Foreign Ministry comments were the first comments by the central government since Tibetan protests against Chinese rule began on March 10. They came just hours before a midnight deadline set by Chinese authorities for protesters in the Tibetan capital Lhasa to surrender or face harsh consequences.

“The Chinese government will unwaveringly protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity,” spokesman Liu Jianchao said at a news conference.

The protests that began in Tibet have spilled over to neighboring provinces and even to the capital Beijing where students staged a sit-down demonstration on Monday. There have been sympathy protests around the world as well, many of them outside of Chinese diplomatic missions.

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“America Still Lacks Things I Long For,” He Said….

July 6, 2007

By John E. Carey
July 6, 2007

I have known Habib (translates to “friend”)  for some time. He works hard, keeps to himself, obeys the speed limit and loves his family.

You have already probably made a judgment or two about Habib, maybe. You think you might know what region of the world he comes from and what religion he follows.

Yet Habib, though an immigrant, is an American citizen who loves his new home. He votes and pays his taxes. His children go to the American public school and not “The Arab School” as some around here call it.

An educated man, he is familiar with the teachings of both Islam and Buddhism. I spent some time taking Habib to lunch, and slowly, as if prying open a can of tuna with a mall screwdriver, I started to learn more about the man, and, I dare say, the world.

Once Habib began to speak, his enlightened thought process amazed me. He said, “Americans are moving further and further away from Human Spirit.”

“What the heck does that mean?” I asked.

“In the Qur’an,” he began, “Allah said that He is a hidden treasure longing to be known. Allah made man so that He himself, Allah, would be known and appreciated.”

In my naivety I asked, “And Allah is God?”

“Allah is God,” he said. “Allah teaches that death is only another chapter. Not a beginning or an end but a passage.”

“And between the beginning and the end we must seek peace and tranquility and happiness.”

Between the begining and the end, I thought, we make money. He with the most toys at the end wins. But I quickly buried this thought.

After an awkwardly long silence, I again chimed in perhaps from ignorance or naivety, “How about the suicide bombers?”

“They have bastardized a great religion, a great way of life and happiness,” said Habib.

Maybe this guy Allah isn’t so bad, I thought.

Habib then said, “Listen to the reed flute. It is made from the reed growing in the river. But after it is cut down and removed from its rightful place, its home, you can hear it crying tender agony.”

As an American I am in too deep here.

Then Habib speaks of Buddhism.

“In Buddhist way, how much you endure, how much you go through without complaint — determines your happiness.”

I see fireworks like the Fourth of July. I know many people who have had an easy life. They were showered with gifts and material things – yet they are unhappy. And I also know a group I call “The Survivors.” Many went though war, many are refugees, some lost limbs and homes and relatives. Among this group I have experienced happiness and even joy. Joy of surviving, and not despairing. Joy of continuing against the odds.

Before we finish lunch, Habib offers this: “Do you know John, the biggest problem with America today?”

A basket full of answers leaps into my mind: the war, George Bush, Taxes, China, the Taliban….

Before I can speak a word Habib says, “Accusing and pointing of fingers. There is no ‘we’ in American politics just now. There is a lot of ‘them.’”

Habib finishes with this: “Politicians, and talk shows, and focus groups and web sites and blogs, all with tremendous opportunity to bring us together. But everybody seems accusing and nobody admitting.”

As we walked back to our destination in a calm silence, I though about President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln: an icon of American greatness. He brought his harshest critics into his Administration, for the promotion of the general welfare and good.

Old Abe: not a Finger Pointer.

Many today seem to have lost faith in the common good. And winning over the other party seems preferable to winning against forces outside America.

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