In Myanmar's Election Year, Radical Buddhism Heightens Tension

When religious violence erupted in Meiktila in central Myanmar two years ago, local politician Win Htein spoke up for the minority Muslims who bore its deadly brunt. Many of his fellow Buddhists have never forgiven him. At least 44 people were killed in March 2013 after a rampage by Buddhist mobs that Win Htein, a lawmaker for the National League for Democracy, tried to stop. Led by Aung San Suu Kyi, the NLD will soon contest a general election, and Win Htein admits that memories of his actions then could lose the party votes among Myanmar's Buddhist majority. For parties contesting the election, likely to be held in November, race and religion are both central and incendiary. They pose a special challenge for Nobel peace laureate Suu Kyi, who has been criticized overseas for not speaking up for Muslims and other minorities.