Posts Tagged ‘Mosque’

Since it was unblocked in 2011, Facebook in Burma has become a platform for sectarian hate speech and propaganda

Since June 2012, when violence broke out between Rohingya and Buddhists in RakhineState, Facebook has become a platform where propagandists mislead social network users in Burma on what seems like a daily basis. There is increasing concern about the number of Burmese Internet users misusing their newfound access to social media. In reality, social networking is not that new to Burmese Internet users, but using it for online propaganda is.

Despite low penetration and strict control of the Internet, active debate on all major religions on Burmese forums did exist for a number of years prior to 2012, with little evidence of animosities spilling into the offline world. Although the country was closed in many ways, people seemed to be more open-minded. Burmese Internet users were allowed access to Facebook in September 2011. However, it is not the only root cause of hate speech and online propaganda since Burmese Facebook users seemed calm until the Rohingya issue emerged in mid-2012.

This falsified image appeared on a Burmese Facebook page alleging killings by Burmese monks. It actually shows Tibetan monks helping out after the 2010 earthquake in China. Pic: Facebook.Since then, fabricated news and falsified images have come from several Facebook accounts with unknown identities. Buddhists portray Muslims as extremists and terrorists while Muslims say Buddhists as racists. Hoaxes are everywhere. Monks from Tibet helping out after a disaster became Buddhist monks killing Rohingya. Infants from orphanages were falsely portrayed as Burmese children displaced by Rohingya rioters.

The situation intensified again recently after the Meikhtila riots. Extremist Facebook pages and accounts with thousands of followers have stoked the tensions with images and stories that cannot be verified. Images from alleged crime scenes – the dead body of a Rakhine girl reportedly raped and killed by three Muslims in June, the burnt body of a Buddhist monk allegedly killed by Muslims in Meikhtila and a video of Buddhist monk threatening to kill Muslims – are all questionable. The “unknown” sources recorded those and uploaded to Facebook, where they spread like wildfire. More interesting is that these are not images and videos likely to be captured by average members of the public, and security forces were included in some videos.

Read more on AsianCorrespondent.
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I had seriously never ever thought of going to Istanbul.  And I learnt that Istanbul is not the capital of Turkey only after receiving the ticket. What a shame!

So, it started with so called Europe’s best Turkish Airline. (I will save it for next post.) Istanbul airport was okay. I do not usually feel cold in air plane so I did not wear anything apart from a t-shirt. Once I got out of the plane, I was like “Crap, that is cold, man!” Grabbing the jacket out immediately, I walked super quit with the hope that I would feel warm faster if I could leave the airport sooner which actually made no sense.

First day

The immigration officer seemed shocked to learn a Myanmar visits his country. He browsed through my passport. (I was not sure what he would think about my visa which I obtained 15 hours before departure. (Procrastination level 9!).  I looked for a man with “MIT” sign and greeted him. He told me to spend some time at coffee shop as we would need to wait one more who was arriving in a short while. I had exchanged some dollars before wasting some time by setting new highscore in Temple Run 2. After the girl arrived, we headed to hotel.

Istanbul Airport

Vodafone made me think the good old days of being a ManU fan.

Once the bus started its journey, my first feeling was “Oh, that is real Europe”. A westerner might not be able to feel it, but as a very Asian, the sceneries full of trees without a single leave, the whitish look and those buildings, that was too different from an average Asia country and that awesome/awful feeling of coldness could make me feel as if I was in a movie or pictorial book.

Istanbul

That’s already so Europe for me.

Long story short (thank god I feel like shortening it now!),  on the arrival day, before we went to AyaSofya – an orthodox church >> mosque >> museum, we had spent some minutes at a mini cafe of a small hotel. I tried Turkish coffee which was not as delicious as seeing the place it originated.

Turkish Coffee

That was not from that hotel. But I would say almost exact same thing.

Then, we continued our walk to AyaSofya. I mean, even for a Buddhist, that HUGE building with mixed culture definitely displayed its awesomeness. I kept murmuring “That’s great! That’s awesome!” to myself. Here you read thousands more words.

Near AyaSofya

Near AyaSofya.

AyaSofya

I felt like I was small by watching the ceiling.

AyaSofya

I didn’t quite know what those represented. But just shooting around.

AyaSofya

Watch it carefully. It will start rotate. (Nah! this is not such cheap sharing on Facebook and it will not rotate although it is in beautiful circular shape.)

AyaSofya

A hint showing it had been a church.

AyaSofya

Le cat!

Despite the grandeur inside, I preferred the way we see it from outside. That whitish buildings which I would never forget was so appealing that I never stopped taking pictures. I even wished like I could move there to reside for a short while. 🙂

We walked back to the hotel. I had had a quick nap and washed my hair first time during travel. I do not usually feel like washing my hair during short trip but the organic soap at the hotel looked attractive to try so I just did it. I knew that I had not brought enough warm clothes and felt the cold like hell walking to AyaSofya so I just wore like four layer of clothes when we went out for dinner. The Seabass at the dinner was yummy and I just realized that many people more than I think love Roti or flat bread. In Nairobi, in Istanbul, in Singapore or in Myanmar, it is everywhere.

Istanbul flat bread

This actually was from day 2 dinner.

That night, I felt the effect of different time zone yet had a good sleep with the feeling Istanbul was awesome!

[To be continued.]