Anti-Muslim spat: Myanmar's leader Suu Kyi loses cool with BBC’s Mishal Husain

Published: March 25, 2016
Aung San Suu Kyi being interviewed by BBC's Mishal Hussain. PHOTO COURTESY: BBC

Aung San Suu Kyi being interviewed by BBC's Mishal Hussain. PHOTO COURTESY: BBC

Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Myanmar politician Aung San Suu Kyi recently lost her cool during an interview with BBC’s Mishal Husain.

After getting grilled by the BBC presenter, Suu Kyi considered a symbol of virtuousness in the West, angrily muttered off-air: ‘No one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim.’

Myanmar’s Suu Kyi says don’t ‘exaggerate’ Rohingya plight

The spat between the two notable Asian women has just emerged according to a new book, The Lady And The Generals: Aung San Suu Kyi And Burma’s Struggle For Freedom, by Peter Popham.

During the interview, Husain repeatedly asked Suu Kyi to condemn anti-Islamic sentiment and the wave of mob-led massacres of Muslims in Myanmar, and she declined to do so.

However, she said: “I think there are many, many Buddhists who have also left the country for various reasons,” she replied. “This is a result of our sufferings under a dictatorial regime.”

The Nobel laureate’s vague attitude towards the violence suffered by Myanmar’s Muslim minority has alarmed even her most devoted fans.

Most of the country’s huge Buddhist majority dislikes its small Muslim community with a passion, so it is thought Suu Kyi did not want to alienate her supporters.

A lone Muslim campaigns in Myanmar’s stronghold of radical Buddhism

Muslims make only  4 per cent of population in Myanmar. The Rohingya Muslims, who have stood the brunt of the violence, are an even smaller minority.

Husain, 43, was the first Muslim presenter of Radio 4’s Today programme. She is a mother-of-three and Northampton-born daughter of Pakistani parents was educated at private school and Cambridge University.

This article originally appeared on Mail Online.

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Reader Comments (65)

  • Point
    Mar 25, 2016 - 7:36PM

    hitler deserves two peace nobel prize given the criteria!!Recommend

  • Tp
    Mar 25, 2016 - 7:52PM

    Suu Kyi should have been informed beforehand about who was going to interview her. Not telling her was totally unfair.Recommend

  • t
    Mar 25, 2016 - 8:14PM

    nobel peace prize, the most generous of nobel prizes.Recommend

  • Chacha Jee
    Mar 25, 2016 - 9:22PM

    Why her? Whole world is fed up with muslim. All most all world leaders have spoken against muslim. Trump, a playboy, virtually nobody in politics, says one line “Ban Muslim Entry to USA” and América (67%) stands by him and WILL their President. Muslim need to think about it. If Burmese hate muslim then what is the reason behind it. Shaikh Rashid was not even allowed to fly over USA air to Canada. 184 muslim were deported from Russia. I can go on and on. Whole world can’t be wrong in their assessment.Recommend

  • shah
    Mar 25, 2016 - 9:51PM

    The So Called Pillar Of Democracy ExposedRecommend

  • abhi
    Mar 25, 2016 - 9:52PM

    I don’t know why we have to put up with such non sense. Ms Husain will never aks question about condition of non-muslims while interviewing Pakistani or Saudi Head of states.Recommend

  • shah
    Mar 25, 2016 - 10:25PM

    Suu Kyii is a bogus democrat and prefers power over everything else.Recommend

  • Mar 25, 2016 - 10:38PM

    Was such a big fan, and here she is exposing herself. She has always ignored the plight of muslims in her country. Sad dayRecommend

  • faheem
    Mar 25, 2016 - 11:56PM

    I dont how she became a noble laureate. she is not listening Mishal’s strong arguments instead adopting the diversion tactics.Recommend

  • LS
    Mar 26, 2016 - 12:02AM

    Why should someone who spent majority of her like in house arrest apologize for what is happening to rest of the country? They are just a puppet government of Mayanmar army.. Ignorant scribe… It’s not just Muslims who are suffering.. The whole nation is but she could not get past her Muslim agendaRecommend

  • awais
    Mar 26, 2016 - 1:29AM

    where she said”she did not know she was going to be interviewed by muslim”

    You made a whole article without evidence?

    I am disappointed Recommend

  • bigsaf
    Mar 26, 2016 - 2:25AM

    Unfortunately she too, like the current govt, carries a great deal of anti-Muslim prejudice, going in so far as denying ethnic cleansing of the Rohingyas. Recommend

  • Salmaan
    Mar 26, 2016 - 2:37AM

    Many Pakistani politicians also do not condemn the attacks on minorities in Pakistan. So whatis the point of this article?Recommend

  • Akram Zaki
    Mar 26, 2016 - 5:11AM

    Still we need to respect the fact that she is a Nobel Laurete, so is Obama, Trump was nominated as well. Who said Muslims have the right to speak while the suffer wars and oppression? there is no Nobel prize for that.Recommend

  • Tp
    Mar 26, 2016 - 6:13AM

    Hussain’s grilling as if Suu Kyi was responsible for the plight of the Rohingya Muslims was way below the belt and unfair. No wonder the great lady lost her cool.Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Mar 26, 2016 - 7:51AM

    Never trusted this woman-Suu Kyi, she’s all smiley-smiley for Westerners like a typical smarmy SE Asian female, but she has her own agenda.Recommend

  • Zahid
    Mar 26, 2016 - 8:04AM

    I listened to the whole interview you linked and there is nowhere she says she didn’t know she would be interviewed by a muslim. She also does not lose her cool. What nonsense. Please watch you own interview before printing. I don’t like Su kyi but I will also not support a lie.Recommend

  • shah
    Mar 26, 2016 - 9:48AM


    That Is Just A Foolish Statement Based On Mere Assumptions


    She Became A Nobel Laureate By Bringing “Democracy” And By “Democracy” I Mean Turning Her Country Into A Colony of Western Corporate Interests And Selling Out The Country’s Oil gas and Timber

    At Least Do Not Lie On ET While Posting

    No It Was Totally Objective.Ang Saan Su Kyi Belongs to Myanmar.Rohingya Plight Is An Issue
    Any Person Would Have Asked.That ‘Great Lady’ Only Exposed Her True Hideous FaceRecommend

  • Sunil
    Mar 26, 2016 - 9:52AM

    Muslims are worried only in non-Muslim countries, where as no one questions about non-Muslims suffering in Muslim majority countries.Recommend

  • Adnan
    Mar 26, 2016 - 10:17AM

    I won’t be surprised if Mishal Hussain is sidelined by the BBC after this disastrous hack job on Suu Kyi.Recommend

  • Salman
    Mar 26, 2016 - 11:14AM


    Two wrongs dont make a right bro…while our politicians attitude towards minorities is is the attitude of the Burmese towards Muslims…both r wrong. a spade a spade…Recommend

  • Mar 26, 2016 - 11:36AM

    The Nobel Peace Prize Committee itself is racist and Suu Kyi is another racist. Like two peas in a pod. Salams Recommend

  • Ali
    Mar 26, 2016 - 11:48AM

    Mishal was very professional. Aung san suu kyi however was very biased and avoided the issues. Recommend

  • SHAH
    Mar 26, 2016 - 11:48AM

    Thank God she did not cut and eat Mishal, as her other Myanmar Buddhists did to muslims, they even sold the body parts in their butchery shops to other Myanmar Budhhists. So why discuss democracy and nobel prize when she is not ready to face reality and plight of her country’s citizens, specially if they are muslims; Recommend

  • Abdul basit
    Mar 26, 2016 - 12:10PM

    A shameful day for Nobel prize commity pannel,by awarding those who don’t know how to serve humanity rather they are adept in dividing humans on the bases of colour,creed and religion….. Recommend

  • Xak
    Mar 26, 2016 - 12:12PM

    I have followed Mishal closely, and she is as neutral a journalist as one should be. I think she did the right job by posing the question to Suu as she has won Nobel for efforts for democracy which inherently includes respect for human rights for all. People complaining about her indifference to pose similar questions to Muslim leaders are wrong, she has time and again lambasted Muslim leaders for their human rights abuses.Recommend

  • Parvez
    Mar 26, 2016 - 3:46PM

    When a leader steps out onto the world stage he / she can not afford to openly show their bias……shame.Recommend

  • Tp
    Mar 26, 2016 - 4:04PM

    I would wait and see if this lady ever gets to interview anybody important again. She fluffed it big time and betrayed her hidden agenda.Recommend

  • kadwa sach
    Mar 26, 2016 - 5:38PM

    I don’t think it’s true that Mishal Hussain is a “neutral” journalist. She has never questioned Pakistani politicians, for example, over the treatment of non-Muslims in Pakistan, where the latter are subjected to officially-backed persecution and violent attacks by fanatics and extremist thugs. Muslim despots questioned about the plight of minorities in their countries will react far too draconically compared to the logically-arguing and soft-spoken Suu Kyi who explained the situation in her country, despite persistent and aggressive questioning by the journalist, as the interview will show. Journalism has become a tool for some to pursue their likes and dislikes, and their personal agenda.. Recommend

  • SK5
    Mar 26, 2016 - 5:56PM

    Brilliant from Mishal, very professional while asking the hard questions. unfortunately even with Suu Kyi Myanmar’s future doesn’t look very bright Recommend

  • Adil Jadoon
    Mar 26, 2016 - 6:08PM

    @Chacha Jee:
    There is a lot wrong with us cha-cha jee, like all other people! But we don’t get a Nobel Peace prize for our bigotry. The world is sick of a lot of people and countries but that does not mean they arethe cause of all problems. Today if you are muslim people think it means you are a terrorist despite the fact that the wrong actions of a few are in anger and have nothing to do with islam. Meet hate with love and anger with kindness, that is what the world needs today. Burmese muslims do not deserve to be raped and murdered if that is wh as what you are implying!Recommend

  • Beat the heat
    Mar 26, 2016 - 7:11PM

    @Chacha Jee:
    You got a point but people like you tend to forget who did massacre of Muslims in Bosnia? You forget who had weapon of mass destruction. Who destabilized the whole middle east? Who was caught in Balochistsn yesterday? Day you will ponder upon these points, you will stop blaming Muslims.

    We should learn to coexist. That is what is missing in all religious countries including Muslims.Recommend

  • Shakir M.
    Mar 26, 2016 - 7:15PM

    @Kadwa/Xac: Whether Mishal is entirely neutral or biased it does not matter. Suu’s press agents respected Mishal enough to provide the interview. And does it matter that Mishal is a Muslim? When discussing matters of faith which are different in perspective from person to person that difference in background makes a difference.

    Example.. discussing Buddhist holy days with a Muslim versus a Buddhist.. there is a difference in wording and conversation to be used. But when someone is talking about fairness, oppression, refugees, and being asked in a completely calm and fair manner (who would say that the above video was not) there is no difference in the person being Muslim or not.

    Should Suu never be expected to talk about 180,000 people who were forced to flee her country and surrounding governments having to pick up that burden that she doesn’t even want to address by words fully?

    And the person who said.. the Buddhist must gave a good reason? I don’t think you are read up on the plight of the Burmese Muslims at all. You can also say.. Hitler had a good reason to be angry at the Jews just to simply assume people never do things in a mean and violent manner without any reason..

    @Chacha Jee: And using Trump as a reference is a wrong move too. Internationally Trump is viewed very badly. He’s not just against Muslims. He makes fun of the physically handicapped, women, Mexicans, and those who have not gotten a complete formal education. It is widely understood that the Trump supporters are angry people who blame their own problems on others and have not accepted the fact that the US elected a Black president for 8 years. The slogan ‘make America great again’ by Trump means to erase the last 8 years of Obama.

    @Tp: Hidden agenda? Yeah. She should have known not to ask about 180,000 Muslim Burmese refugees who have been scattered in the regions and as far as the United States as refugees status. The interviewer clearly had an agenda. I mean who would ask or even care about them anyway? Recommend

  • Azzy
    Mar 26, 2016 - 9:55PM

    She should be stripped of her Nobel prize . She is a Hitler and a racist of the most egregious kind.Recommend

  • Hamed Ross
    Mar 26, 2016 - 11:33PM

    No one told the Muslim interviewer she was interviewing a bigot.
    Surprises all around.Recommend

  • Mar 27, 2016 - 2:17AM

    Do people appreciate than Aung San Suu Kyi struggled and fought for democracy in her country? She was villifed and kept under house arrest by one of the most brutal regimes the World has known. Her dignified battle won her the Nobel Peace Prize, which I had joined the campaign for her nomination. I can understand her becoming annoyed at her annoyance about her story being derailed in order to push an agenda. Basically the interviewer tried to get her to side with one side against another in an ethnic conflict, and the interviewer pushed her to take the side of those who are the same faith as the interviewer.
    Indeed if Nelson Mandela had been interviewed by a Zulu – descended BBC interviewer pushing a pro-Zulu agenda in ethnic conflict in SA, he could be rightfully annoyed too.
    I bet ASSK’s old adversaries, the brutal military junta – are loving this.Recommend

  • Gabriel
    Mar 27, 2016 - 2:28AM

    I think that my illiterate maid is more sensible than Aung San Suu Kyi and Donald Trump.Recommend

  • Shah Kaliban
    Mar 27, 2016 - 2:59AM

    I was always wondering what her stance is in relation to Myanmar’s excruciatingly obvious Muslim-minority issue. I expected something better from a Laureate and an advocate of peace. But oh well who cares about Muslims anyway, we’re all just a bit of an inconvenience aren’t we? Recommend

  • Thein Mg
    Mar 27, 2016 - 3:26AM

    Rohingyas like Ms. Mishal Husain are guests in the country of, be it by birth or otherwise., However unlike Ms. Husain and family, Rohingyas were engaged with the Mujahids in an action, in the setting up of a separate state and amalgamate it with the then East Pakistan (todays Bangladesh) an ACT OF TREASON.
    Todays Bangladesh does not accept them – why should Myanmar, they are free to go to Pakistan if accepted.Recommend

  • salmaan
    Mar 27, 2016 - 4:49AM

    It is easy to call someone a liar. Prove it.
    I can give several references of events/killings of minorities not condemned by prominent politicians. Recommend

  • intrepid
    Mar 27, 2016 - 6:57AM

    ‘no-one told me I was going to be interviewed by a Muslim’ Suu Kyi about BBC Today presenter Mishal Husain …..seems quite ignorant of Ms. Suu Kyi or perhaps her world view is limited to the point that she did not recognize the interviewer’s name (last) as being a Muslim. Additionally, her advisors failed her, as well! That said, Ms. Suu Kyi’s hypocrisy as a caring “leader” does take center stage as a result of her blatant admission about Rohinga Muslims populating Myanmar, Burma !!!Recommend

  • SK
    Mar 27, 2016 - 9:20AM

    @kadwa sach:

    Your prejudice in your analysis about the interview is evident but the issues you have raised against minorities in Pakistan are somewhat relevant. But due to your own prejudice you failed to notice that Pakistan is currently fighting against terror and all forms of radicalism. Average educated Pakistanis don’t condone crime against minorities and dispensed
    Justice against perpetuaters are swift and befitting. Unfortunately, we are cleaning the mess created of others doing. You need to see issues in proper perspective. Recommend

  • Edward Carnby
    Mar 27, 2016 - 10:03AM

    Can’t blame her….the Muslims everywhere just causing problems and fights…Recommend

  • Mar 27, 2016 - 10:06AM

    I read news papers from many muslim countries but I do not find the amount of Islamophobia as in Pakistan. Wonder how and why Pakistan has become the self appointed leader and protector of Islam. 24×7 everything revolves around this one word. This much obsession is not even in middle east. Look at Turkey such liberated souls not that they are not devout muslims.Recommend

  • Abdullah
    Mar 27, 2016 - 2:20PM

    Nobel Peace prize has become a joke, yet again!Recommend

  • bahadur khan
    Mar 27, 2016 - 4:17PM

    let us go back to 1947. Muhajir Mishal hussain grandfather and grand mother left Delhi in a plane along with Claude Auchinleck British Senior defense administrator. Many poor non privileged refugees (muslim/hindu/sikh) died thirsty/hungry. Then Mishal;s father a doctor practiced in Saudi Arabia, Then migrated to Britain. Privilege does not allow you to experience the suffering of millions who crossed the border on foot, So Mishal Hussain experience is different, I am not sure she is qualified to question refugee issues, If sending a muslim anchor was needed BBC could have sent Yalda Hakim afghani refugee) (covered somalia refugees) Zainab Badawy (somalia) (covering African refugee issues.)Recommend

  • Sunny
    Mar 27, 2016 - 4:49PM

    This incident shows the reputation of Nobel Prize.Recommend

  • farsar
    Mar 27, 2016 - 9:41PM

    @Tp: Since when interviewee is inform of the religion of interviewer. Burmese have done genocide against the poor Muslims.Recommend

  • sunny
    Mar 28, 2016 - 12:45AM

    Pakistan should stage protest with Myanmar. Myanmar leader misbehaved with Pakistani citizen. Recommend

  • bahadur khan
    Mar 28, 2016 - 1:40AM

    @Edward Carnby:
    dear edward carnby, being muslim i have to agree with you. inabilty to adjust by muslim society has become world war 3 from pakistan, bangladesh afghanista somali, kenya, libya,algiers, syria, iraq, iran to continental europe, australia, new zealand. This is causing enormous friction in India, usa, canada also. Fortunately south america is out of this mess.
    Muslim Refugees in turkey are a living symbol of muslim misgovenance and intolerance,Recommend

  • Rollin & Trollin
    Mar 28, 2016 - 8:50AM

    Have to agree with you there. Somehow, over the last 30 years or so, many Pakistanis consider themselves the best of Muslims and even like to flaunt it. And many Arabs even despise that behavior and think that such Pakistanis have made a laughing stock of the religion. Recommend

  • Saad
    Mar 28, 2016 - 1:20PM

    This kind of badgering of the wrong target does not help Muslims. It only creates more resentment.Recommend

  • Mark Wagner
    Mar 28, 2016 - 7:28PM

    @Chacha Jee:
    Seeing your are not from the USA, I think you need better understanding of the facts, before you embarrass yourself, by commenting on American politics.
    Trump has 67% of the delegates for the Republican party….so far……the percentage measured… far… about 12% of the total population……so Trump has gotten approval from 67% of 12%….you do the math….but it ain’t very many….but more importantly Trump is polled to lose a national election to either Democrat, by a double digit percentage……
    Son, you might be better off just keeping quiet, and waiting for the results, November….and at the very least, you need to apologize for not being informed, and speaking at all..Recommend

  • kadwa sach
    Mar 29, 2016 - 2:09AM

    “Cut and eat”???!! What a stupid thing to say! Have you looked inside your own country to see what’s going around you? Innocent families have been destroyed in Lahore. Will you say something about the barbaric, uncivilized animals who perpetrate such perfidious crimes? Or will you turn a blind eye and just rant about the “maltreatment” of Muslims in certain parts of the world? You have a conspiracy obsession – like most Pakistanis – and you need to come from under the stone and see the world around you. Recommend

  • Haji Atiya
    Mar 29, 2016 - 6:03AM

    @Mark Wagner:
    Sonny boy, Trump was considered a clown and slated to lose from the get-go. But he has been holding his own and doing remarkably well much to the chagrin of the GOP establishment and a whole bunch of other naysayers. So you better get down on your knees and apologize to “Chacha Jee” if he thinks otherwise from you !Recommend

  • Rizwan khan
    Mar 29, 2016 - 6:43AM

    Why should the fact that she was being intwrviewed by a person of any faith matter?Recommend

  • farsar
    Mar 29, 2016 - 7:46AM

    @Edward Carnby:
    @Chacha Jee: There is a crusade going on against Muslims.Recommend

  • Knight282009
    Mar 29, 2016 - 2:12PM

    @Zahid: And you didn’t read the whole article genius. It is mentioned she said it off-air.Recommend

  • Knight282009
    Mar 29, 2016 - 3:02PM

    @Tp: There is no point in Suu-Kyi losing her temper. It wasn’t she who committed the autocratic regime committed crimes against Muslims. But lady of caliber like her should have taken ownership of Rohingyas, as a national leader, alongside Buddhists as both are citizens of the same country. Simple, people were expecting more from her. Recommend

  • Muhibullah
    Mar 29, 2016 - 4:18PM

    @Chacha Jee:

    You need to get some sense of proportion. The people blaming Muslims for violence are the ones who committed the Nuclear holocaust, the fire bombing of Dresden, the devastation of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and tortured mostly innocent people in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay all with the full support of their obese, greedy, lazy and bloodthirsty public. Their real fear is that unlike the other nations they oppressed, the Muslims are a tough people inclined to take revenge on them for their misdeeds. This fear of facing the consequence of their own barbaric acts has been sublimated into an ex-post-facto justification for their crimes through slander and smear campaign against MuslimsRecommend

  • Tp
    Mar 29, 2016 - 5:38PM

    @Rizwan khan: Normally, it wouldn’t matter. But we’re talking about a ‘journalist’ named Mishal Husain here.Recommend

  • Marc (thesocialgadfly)
    Mar 29, 2016 - 11:50PM

    I see comments from Muslims, and Buddhists on this thread, and neither gets any of it right. It’s your religions which are the greatest threat to democracy if they are all that you will cling to in your arguments.Recommend

  • dhani
    Mar 30, 2016 - 1:00AM

    @Chacha Jee:
    Almost 1.5 million Muslims have been killed by the “civilized world” in the past 15 years.Recommend

  • Mar 30, 2016 - 5:15PM

    “The people blaming Muslims for violence are the ones who committed the Nuclear holocaust, the fire bombing of Dresden, the devastation of Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan and tortured mostly innocent people in Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay all with the full support of their obese, greedy, lazy and bloodthirsty public. ” You are right about these people. But I always wonder why the people on this board are so worried about the Muslims of entire world except the Muslims of Pakistan who they themselves keep killing in thousands almost every day. Instead of the World Muslims, first please look after and ensure safety of innocent Muslims of Pakistan from the bloodthirsty terror groups. Recommend

  • UM
    Mar 30, 2016 - 6:19PM

    @Chacha Jee:

    Your are free to hate Muslims, but your numbers are wrong. Allow me to educate you with numbers, and statistics.

    UK Deportations:

    In year 2014 UK deported 38,767 people. Highest number of deportees from UK were Indian. In 2014, 20% of all deportations from UK (7400) were Indian nationals. Africans (15%) and citizens of other European countries were 15% as well. Pakistanis were 14% of the total that year.

    US Deportations:

    US deported around 370,000 people in year 2013, and Mexicans were 242,000 out of them, followed by Guatemala (47,769), Honduras (37,049), El Salvador (21,602), and the Dominican Republic (2,462). Other countries in the top 10: Ecuador (1,616), Brazil (1,500), Colombia (1,429), Nicaragua (1,383), and Jamaica (1,119). Filipinos are also deported in large numbers from various countries.

    Mexico Deportations:

    Mexico itself deports huge numbers. Mexico deported 79% more people from Central America’s northern triangle in the first four months of 2015 than it did during the same period a year earlier, according to government statistics

    Data from Mexico’s National Immigration Institute says that 51,565 immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador were deported between January and April, up from 28,736, during that period in 2014.

    Looks like Catholics (From Mexico, Central/South America and Philippines) are biggest religious group to be deported all over the world.

    Buddhist extremists in Myanmar are fighting people of other religions too. Read up on Kachin Rebels (Kachin people are 90% Christian) in Myanmar.Recommend

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