The cinnamon-hued robes of Burma's Buddhist monks usually evoke spiritual serenity. Yet for the repressive junta that has ruled for 45 years, the sight of shaven-headed clerics marching the streets has been anything but soothing. For more than a week, tens of thousands of monks have rallied across the country, turning what started in August as a protest against fuel-price hikes into a much more potent threat to the generals' rule. Some of the monks turned their begging bowls upside down, a gesture that traditionally denotes excommunication but now also carries a political message: they want the junta out. After holding back for several days--during which support for the monks grew and world leaders like President George W. Bush and Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown criticized the regime--the generals finally snapped on Sept. 26, setting security forces against the marchers. At least two monks were reported killed and dozens tossed in jail. It was a chilling reminder of a 1988 crackdown on pro-democracy rallies that killed thousands. But just hours after the latest violence, several clerics vowed to keep protesting, even if their robes became stained with blood.