YANGON — Myanmar’s anti-Muslim hardliners cheered Donald Trump’s election as US president in prose and poetry on Thursday, hailing the divisive billionaire’s triumph as a victory in the fight against “Islamic terrorism”.
Trump’s shock ascent to the White House topped a vitriolic campaign in which he promised to ban Muslims from entering the US and pledged to establish a database of those living in the country.
Muslims around the world were left reeling from his surprise win on Tuesday, with many fearing he would bring in anti-Islam policies that could help bolster extremist groups like Islamic State.
But in Buddhist-majority Myanmar, a country simmering with religious tensions, hardline anti-Muslim groups waxed lyrical about his victory.
Firebrand monk Wirathu, once dubbed the “face of Buddhist terror” for his anti-Muslim sermons, celebrated with a four-line poem on Facebook.
“Public security is the most important consideration/Donald Trump is the real leader/People love him so much/Nationalism is the priority,” he wrote.
“May US citizens be free from jihad. May the world be free of bloodshed,” he added in a statement underneath.
Anti-Muslim sentiment has billowed in Myanmar in recent years, erupting into bouts of bloodshed and leaving a stain on the country’s recent democratic transition.
More than a million of Myanmar’s Muslims are Rohingya, a stateless ethnic group reviled by many Buddhists who insist they are illegal immigrants from Bangladesh.
Myanmar’s president has accused Islamist Rohingya militants of attacking police border posts in western Rakhine state last month, an incident that sparked a deadly military crackdown in the border region.
Independent investigators have been prevented from carrying out enquiries into the allegations that Rohingya extremists carried out the deadly raids.
But ethnic Rakhine Buddhist nationalists, who have long railed against the Rohingya, have seized on the attacks as evidence the oppressed minority is launching a new front for terrorism.
“Being engulfed in Islamisation and illegal immigration problems, we the Arakanese (Rakhine) people look up to you as a new world leader who will change the rigged system being infested with jihadi infiltrators,” said Aye Maung, chairman of the Arakan National Party, in an open letter to Trump.
“We… hope your leadership will steer the US and the world into a safer place without radical Islamic terrorism.”