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Thai Muslims enjoy ‘full rights’, harmony with fellow citizens


The Jordan Times


AMMAN — Representing around 5 per cent of the southeast Asian country's population, Thai Muslims live in peace and harmony with their fellow citizens while enjoying their full rights, according to Pakorn Priyakorn, chairman of the International Relations Task Force at the Office of the Sheikhul Islam of Thailand.
At present, the Muslim population in Thailand is around 5.88 million people, 38 per cent of whom reside in the four southern provinces, according to Priyakorn, who is also director of the Halal Standards Institute of Thailand.
"Islam is not only the second largest religion in Thailand, but also enjoys royal and official patronage," he told a media delegation in Bangkok during a recent visit.
"Historically, politically and culturally, Muslims have been an integral part on the social and economic development of Thailand for over five centuries," he added.
Thai people from different religions, races, languages and cultures live together in harmony and enjoy equal protection under the constitution, he added.
Thailand has six major religions: Buddhism, Islam, Christianity, Brahmanism, Hinduism and Sikhism, and interfaith dialogues for mutual understanding are common, he added.
According to Priyakorn, there are around 4,000 mosques in Thailand, most of which have basic religious schools or learning centres. Around 70 per cent of them get some financial supports from local authorities.
Over 100,000 Thai students have studied Islam, Arabic and other majors in the Arab world, he added.
“Thailand appreciates diversity and all minorities… we are minority as a number but majority as citizens… at the end of the day, what matters is that we are all Thai”, Priyakorn added.
The Imam of Chakraphong Mosque in Bangkok said: "We have been here for centuries… we as Muslims practice our religion without any harm or disturbance."
"We regularly meet with our fellow scholars from other faiths… we are comfortable here and we teach our kids Arabic and the koran and we are proud we are Thai," he added.

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