In a study summarised by Simon Roughneen in The Irrawaddy, ‘Poll Finds Burmese Public Linking Citizenship to Buddhism’ it is reported how Burmese equate being Burmese or ‘Myanmar’ with being Buddhist. The study was done by the ‘Myanmar Egress’ a Rangoon based organisation and has been published as ‘Citizenship in Myanmar: Contemporary Debates and Challenges in Light of the Reform Process’.
The report is based upon a survey of over 2000 Burmese form across the country. The basic conclusions are that ‘a very large number of respondents within the Buddhist ethnic groups—i.e. not only Bamar respondents, equate citizenship with religion.’
A ‘Bamar, Buddhist’ responded: ‘Myanmar is Buddhist and patriotic,’ while a ‘Rohingya, Muslim’ stated: ‘[Myanmar is] “The person who is Buddhist.”‘
A spokesperson for Myanmar Egress suggests that ‘This religious nationalism, if not dealt with carefully, could serve to alienate other groups with a different religious identity.’