Deities caught in Taiwan's dirty war

Overseas Property | 13 May 2016

Smoke billows from temples across Taiwan as people burn incense and paper money for luck. But the fragrant haze could be blown away by fears about health, says Yeh Guang-perng, founder of Air Clean for Taiwan. During a festival for Taoist sea goddess Matsu monitoring showed harmful particles topped by 60 times the World Health Organization's safety levels after firecrackers were set off.

There are also warnings of hazardous chemicals released by burning incense and paper money in Taiwan, where Taoism and Buddhism are main faiths.

Using deities and "dirty war" together produces a headline that's sure to be noticed. But this dirty war is far from what saw the term go into use in the 1970s and 1980s when the media used it to describe action against opponents of the Argentinian military dictatorship that held power. Thousands of people disappeared and were killed.

A dirty war can today mean any planned campaign using soldiers or police to intimidate people through kidnap, rape, torture and murder.

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