In recent weeks, the Buddhist-Muslim violence that last year seemed mostly confined to Rakhine State has been spreading across Myanmar, even entering Yangon and other large cities. Muslim leaders in some parts of the country are warning Myanmar’s Muslims not to leave their homes, while many mosques and shops owned by Muslims have shut their doors for now.
The danger is that, in the vacuum created by the end of Myanmar’s highly repressive state three years ago—and abetted by a climate of hateful speech and xenophobia on Myanmar’s mushrooming Internet—these episodes of interreligious and interethnic violence are going to expand, consuming the country in chaotic violence before it has time to build democratic institutions and a capable police force. In a new CFR Expert Brief, I analyze Myanmar’s rising ethnic violence and offer prescriptions for cooling today’s violence. Read it here.