A local Buddhist association has vowed to sue media outlets and netizens, after a video allegedly showing members partying at a nun's wedding went viral.
The Wutaishan Buddhist Association (WBA) of North China's Shanxi Province accused media of "tarnishing Buddhism" over the video, titled "Buddhist nuns participate in a Wutai Mountain nun's wedding." The tape, which depicts shaven-headed women in robes at a hotel attracted more than 1 million viewers on Sina Weibo by the weekend.
In a Saturday WeChat statement, the WBA claimed that the guests are actually members of a pyramid scheme called "Wuxingbi," whose members shave their heads.
The association said that the wedding party had nothing to do with WBA members and that the video's uploaders only used their name to garner clicks. The association added that it has already instructed lawyers to demand platforms take the video down, apologize to and compensate them.
WBA lawyer Wei Haisheng said on Sunday that 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 rumors are viewed by more than 5,000 netizens or retweeted 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 scrutinizing their reliability?" a Weibo user wrote.
Buddhism is a peaceful and tolerant religion, and considers litigation a last resort, said Wei. 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, the WBA also slammed rumors claiming that temples on Wutai Mountain were hiring monks with a monthly salary of 8,000 yuan ($1,159).