The smiling faces of Burmese voters demonstrate an exuberant nation prepared for a new era of democracy and political freedom. The smiling faces of Burmese voters, however, also hide the tragic reality for many in Myanmar -- the continued exclusion and persecution of Muslims, especially the Rohingya people.
As Myanmar moves towards its much-awaited 2015 national elections, persecution of the Muslim minority -- Rohingyas -- is casting shadows on the prospect of restoring democracy in the country. Violence against, the destitute Rohingyas numbering less than a million in a country 52 million majority Buddhists, has brought international condemnation. Discrimination also risks arousing sectarian violence from Islamic groups with serious security implications for Myanmar and Southeast Asia. The nine bombs targeting Buddhist pilgrims in India's holiest Buddhist shrine Mahabodhi temple in Gaya on July 7, 2013 was perhaps the first such response to the Rohingya massacre but may not be the last.
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