Did anyone expect Buddhist Extremists?

Organised religion around the world appears to be more trouble than its worth.

A New Zealand bar manager has been found guilty of insulting religion in Myanmar by using an image of the Buddha to promote a cheap drinks night.

He and two co-accused have been all sentenced to two and a half years in prison.

Philip Blackwood, who worked at the VGastro bar in Yangon, faced up to four years in jail after being found guilty of breaching the Religion Act with the offending mocked-up photo that depicted the Buddha wearing DJ headphones on a Facebook page.

The 32-year-old has been held in the city’s notorious Insein prison since December when he was arrested alongside two Myanmar nationals — Tun Thurein, the bar owner, and manager Htut Ko Ko Lwin, who are also facing the same charge.

The trio arrived at the Yangon court on Tuesday for the verdict due at around 12:00 pm (6.30pm NZT) as some 50 journalists and a handful of monks gathered outside.

The defendants had all denied insulting religion during the trial, in a case that has triggered outrage in Myanmar, where surging Buddhist nationalism and religious violence has sparked international concern.

The Buddhist-majority country, which began emerging from the grip of the military in 2011, has been rocked by several deadly outbreaks of religious violence in recent years, mainly targeting the Muslim minority.

The bloodshed has coincided with a rise in popularity of hardline monks who have advocated controversial new laws, which rights groups say would severely curb the freedom of religious minorities and women.

“Hardline monks”. ? Seriously, the world is heading for a new dark age at the same time it is riding a tidal wave of technology.

How can we possibly get on in a world where women aren’t allowed to go to school, or using a tame image of Buddha wearing headphones can lead to a jail sentence?



– Daily Mail, Newstalk ZB via NZ Herald