Thailand: Muslim schools under scrutiny

26th Feb 2019
Thailand: Muslim schools under scrutiny

By Riyaz ul Khaliq

 

(AA): – Thailand has ordered the profiling of Cambodian Muslim students enrolled in religious seminaries in the country, media reports said on Monday.

Authorities have scheduled a meeting of representatives of more than 600 privately-run Islamic schools — known as ponoh in Thai and pondok in Malay.
The move comes ahead of the general elections in Thailand set for March 24, the first since the 2014 military coup.

According to daily Bangkok Post, hundreds of Cambodian Muslim students are enrolled in Islamic seminaries in Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat, and Songkhla provinces in the troubled south of the country alerting security officials.

“We are not saying Cambodians [Muslims] are coming to cause problems in our country, but if they overstay, immigration police have to arrest them and follow the laws,” the report cited regional police official Surachate Hakparn as saying.

Thai authorities have accused Islamic seminaries of recruiting youth for insurgency groups active in the south.

Thailand has regularly deported Cambodian Muslims even those who come on valid visa.

Last week, Thai police deported 34 Muslims who allegedly wanted to work in the troubled region.

Thai military accuses the seminaries of operating as training camps for the Barisan Revolusi Nasional (BRN), an umbrella group of Muslim insurgents who call themselves Malay.

They either seek greater autonomy or freedom from the Buddhist-majority country which has been ruled by military regimes for most of the time since 1932.

Several attempts by the government to hold talks with the insurgent groups have reached a stalemate.

A prominent Muslim figure, Wan Muhammad Nor Matha, leader of the newly-found Prachachat Party, is running prime ministership and has promised provincial autonomy in the south.

[Map of Thailand By Globe trotter/Creative Commons]

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