Lama visits Alabama church at center of civil rights movement
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[October 27, 2014]
By Sherrel Wheeler Stewart
BIRMINGHAM Ala. (Reuters) - The Dalai
Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet, visited one of America’s sacred
sanctuaries on Saturday, touring the church where four African-American
girls were killed in a 1963 bombing that galvanized the civil rights
As more than 300 protesters and supporters chanted and beat drums
outside, the Dalai Lama held hands with Birmingham Mayor William
Bell inside the 16th Street Baptist Church and said he was overjoyed
to stand at the site where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and other
civil rights leaders in the 1960s launched rallies for freedom for
“Human rights starts from within," the Dalai Lama said. "It does not
come from skies. It does grow from earth."
He said: ”Martin Luther King was important to the acceptance of
civil rights. Now the American people, majority are white, accept
The Dalai Lama talked about income inequality as a threat to peace.
"Because of the economic situation, there is frustration,” he said.
"Frustration brings anger. Then anger brings violence.
“There are no billionaires in Tibet. There is no gap.“
The 79-year-old Tenzin Gyatso, enthroned in 1950 as the 14th Dalai
Lama, responded to questions about his future and said Buddhism
would continue without a Dalai Lama.
"Some people think it's important to Buddhism," he said. "It's not."
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Outside the church, protesters from the International Shugden
Community, who say the Dalai Lama has persecuted them for following
Dorje Shugden, an ancient Buddhist deity he denounced decades ago,
shouted: “Stop lying, false Dalai Lama.”
They said they were discriminated against in India and other
communities of Tibetan exiles.
The Dalai Lama said Shugden Buddhism was never banned, but he does
not support the practice.
Little more than 50 years ago, demonstrators protesting segregation
laws rallied at almost the same spot, braving fire hoses and police
(Editing by Barbara Goldberg and Lisa Von Ahn)
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