Myanmar’s top monks parry claims of Buddhist hardliners

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YANGON: The body representing Myanmar’s top monks has distanced itself from a vocal Buddhist nationalist group, in an unprecedented blow to the anti-Muslim network blamed for a surge in sectarian violence across the country. The Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, which represents the upper echelons of the clergy in the overwhelmingly Buddhist country, issued a statement late Tuesday saying it has never endorsed the ultra-nationalist “Ma Ba Tha.” The Ma Ba Tha is a noisy monk-led group that has been at the forefront of anti-Muslim protests in Myanmar in the three years since it was founded. It recently said it was established under Sangha rules, a claim refuted by the country’s top monks, putting clear water between the mainstream Buddhist clergy and the hardline group for the first time.

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