A Buddhist association in China has vowed to sue media networks and netizens for “tarnishing Buddhism” after they reported and shared a video that incorrectly showed its members partying at a nun’s wedding. The Wutaishan Buddhist Association (WBA) of Shanxi Province accused the media of “tarnishing Buddhism” over the video titled “Buddhist nuns participate in a Wutai Mountain nun’s wedding.” The tape, which showed shaven-headed women in robes at a hotel, attracted more than a million viewers on Sina Weibo, which is akin to Twitter in China.
In a WeChat statement on Saturday, WBA claimed the guests were actually members of a pyramid scheme called “Wuxingbi,” whose members shave their heads. It said the party had nothing to do with WBA members and the video’s uploaders only used their name to garner clicks. The association added that it has already instructed lawyers to demand the platforms take the video down, apologise and compensate them, state-run Global Times reported today.
WBA lawyer Wei Haisheng said yesterday the association had reported the case to the public security bureau. According to a 2013 judicial interpretation that defines what constitutes “fabricating facts to slander others” online, and what could be regarded as “serious” violations, citizens can be charged with defamation if their rumours are viewed by more than 5,000 netizens or re-tweeted more than 500 times.
Others also expressed outrage over the video, with many calling it an insult to the sanctity of Buddhism and slamming the social platforms for being careless. “How can these social platform administrators allow such videos to go online without even scrutinising their reliability?” a Weibo user wrote. Wei said Buddhism is a peaceful and tolerant religion, and considers litigation a last resort.
However, more and more cases have blackened the name of Buddhism in recent years, he said, adding, “It’s time for us to take actions to defend the reputation of Buddhism.” In 2016, WBA had slammed rumours claiming that temples on Wutai Mountain were hiring monks with a monthly salary of 8,000 yuan.