In his post Not only freedom: the dark ethnic side of the Tibetan Buddhist revolt, anthropologist Gabriele Marranci challenges mainstream images of Tibetans as peaceful and writes about Tibetan racism, ethno-nationalistic dreams, and attacks against muslims in Tibet.
Both the mass media, academics, and even anthropologists specialised in Tibetan Buddhism, have hidden what Marranci calls the ‘dark ethnic side’ of the revolt.
The Muslims in Tibet have been the target of Buddhist Tibetan violence for some time now, especially since 9/11. During the recent protests in Tibet there were anti-muslim attacks:
The mosque in Lhasa was burnt and destroyed, shops and the possessions of Muslim Tibetans smashed, a family burned alive in their own shop, terror and terrorism have affected this community because of a pernicious form of ethnic (Buddhist) nationalism
Marranci points to the paper Close Encounters of an Inner Asian Kind: Tibetan-Muslim co-existence and conflict in Tibet past and present by Andrew Fischer. According to Fischer, the tensions are primarily the cause of ‘economic’ differences and opportunities:
During the 1990s Ethnic Tibetan Buddhist started to fear that the economic success of Muslim Tibetans (particularly their restaurants and shops), would have undermined the economic, and so social, status of the Buddhist Tibetans. The Buddhist monks began a campaign against the economic activities of Tibetan Muslims, which epitomised in the 2003 boycott of Muslims’ businesses and saw also violent actions against innocent Muslim Hui families
Since the beginning of the revolt in March, demonstrations against China are held in all those countries through which the Olympic torch is passing. From the politicians, to the public, from Hollywood to Bollywood, from the scholars (with few exceptions) to the students, from the Trade Unions to the Industrial associations: all show indignation against the ‘oppression of the Chinese government’. Yet they ignore the dark side of this ‘revolt’ which is not so different from that in 2003.
Meanwhile monks and lamas are just stoking the fire in the hope of not just a free Tibet but also an ethnically clean one!