A grassroots campaign in Burma called #myfriend is harnessing the power of selfies to promote tolerance between religious and ethnic groups.
Launched in April, the campaign encourages people to post selfies with friends from different religious or ethnic backgrounds on social media sharing the words, “I am [religion/ethnicity] and my friend is [religion/ethnicity].” The movement uses the hashtags #myfriend and #friendshiphasnoboundaries and is an effort by concerned individuals to counteract the growing racisim and discrimination in Burma.
Since 2012 Burma has been the site of serious conflicts between Buddhist and Muslim communities, particularly in Rakhine State where at least 140,000 persons have been displaced. The violence has prompted prominent Buddhist leaders such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama to speak out. In May, three Nobel laureates called the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar, which is largely perpetuated by Buddhist groups, “nothing less than genocide.”
Online hate speech and harassment has become so widespread on Burma’s social media that this spring Facebook created new tools for users to promote peace and and social harmony.
For more about Burma and the Rohingya conflict, see our ongoing coverage:
- Burma plight coverage gets boost from Jolie Pitt visit (Aug 6 2015)
- Leaders around the world respond to the Rohingya crisis (June 3, 2015)
- Three Burmese monks receive World Harmony Awards (June 3, 2015)
- Facebook using Buddhist tools to fight hate speech in Burma (March 4 2015)
- “Buddhists Betray the Teachings” — Jack Kornfield on the anti-Muslim violence in Burma (July 14, 2014)
- The Fire This Time: A look at the religious violence in Burma (March 18, 2014)