The 969 Movement is a nationalist group opposed to what they see as Islam’s expansion in predominantly-Buddhist Burma. The three digits of 969 “symbolize the virtues of the Buddha, Buddhist practices and the Buddhist community.” The first 9 stands for the nine special attributes of the Lord Buddha and the 6 for the six special attributes of his Dhamma, or Buddhist Teachings, and the last 9 represents the nine special attributes of Buddhist Sangha [monks]. Those special attributes are the three Gems of the Buddha. In the past, the Buddha, Sangha, Dhamma and the wheel of Dhamma were Buddhists’ sign. And the same goes for 969; it is another Buddhist sign.
The movement that inspired strong reactions within and beyond Myanmar.[clarification needed] In the international media it has received criticism. The Straits Times writes that the 969 movement, which it says “is described as as Myanmar‘s ‘neo-Nazi group'”, is facing scrutiny for “its role in spreading anti-Muslim sentiment”. The Straits Times also reports that Wirathu responded to recent anti-Muslim violence with pledges to work for peace but critics remain skeptical.
The group is described as being anti-Muslim or Islamophobic. The movement’s Myanmar Buddhist supporters deny it is anti-Muslim with Bhikkhu Wirathu stating it is a protective movement about targeting “Bengalis who are terrorizing ethnic Rakhine (Buddhists).” Alex Bookbinder, in The Atlantic, links the movement’s origins in a book written in the late 1990s by U Kyaw Lwin, a functionary in the ministry of religious affairs, and its precepts are rooted in a traditional belief in numerology. Across South Asia, Muslims represent the phrase “In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate and Merciful” with the number 786, and businesses display the number to indicate that they are Muslim-owned. 969’s proponents see this as a Muslim plot to conquer Burma in the 21st century, based on the premise that 7 plus 8 plus 6 is equal to 21. The number 969 is intended be 786’s cosmological opposite.