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'Buddhist' is not a citizen

by Hor Kwei Cheong, The Buddhist Channel, March 15, 2007

I am not going to mince words here and let's get straight to the point.  The term 'Buddhist' is not referring to a citizen.  The term 'Muslim' does not hold claim to being equivalent to the term 'citizen'.  The word 'Christian' is neither a generic term for an inhabitant or a nationality.

So who is a citizen? A citizen in all respects is a person who has been accepted by his home country or accepted by another country to which he has emigrated to. Simple.

The terms 'Buddhist', 'Muslim', and 'Christian', and all other religions in the world, are not, I repeat, ARE NOT, referring to which country they come from.

The fact that some countries are conventionally referred to as 'Buddhist', 'Muslim', 'Christian' SHOULD NEVER be used as a basis, substratum, or excuse, for using these religious terms for whatsoever intents and purposes while constructing news media.

I am taking to tasks all reporters, editors, and bureau heads of all newspapers in the world, including news agencies TO STOP influencing and prejudicing citizens of the world by linking their professed religions in their news reports which are particularly divisive or sensitive.

Today, March 15, 2007, I read again in a local Malaysian daily which carries a world news report attributed to 'Agencies': "Suspected Muslim insurgents hurled a bomb at a commuter van in Thailand's restive south yesterday and then opened fire on all its nine Buddhist passengers."

Unrest in Buddhist hinterlands before the restive south Thailand issue was never reported in such a way. Let's take the example of Sri Lanka. The Tamil Tigers were not reported to be killing Buddhists, but just Sri Lankans.

If news people start to wriggle out of the situation and argue that using 'religious profession' in news cannot be totally stamped out, I challenge them to search in their hearts for their true intention and will. How does it matter that "...a Christian terrorist has killed a Muslim." Just report it as 'a terrorist has killed a such-and-such national.' That's it.

By the way, the term 'Christian terrorist' or 'Buddhist terrorist' has not been widely used before in the news but some smart-alec in the news bureau somewhere in the world will start to use it one day. It's a matter of time. Prejudices will be met with prejudices and bigotry will be escalated by more bigotry. Hate is not overcomed by hate.

I exhort the news people around the world to rise and stand up against the muck-rakers amongst the unscrupulous parties, not less the incorrigible news people, who are causing far-reaching negative repercussions for the whole world. They are getting away scot-free putting pens to paper like putting flames to dry twigs.

I rest my case. You have read it all. Great changes for the betterment of all do not need a lot of words, but just a lot of actions. I prove this here; and the responsible parties who have little dust in their eyes should prove it too.


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