Opinion: Appointment of Muslim Chief of Army Shows Govt Not Anti-Muslim

September 18, 2005

Source: Gulf News


On September 18, 2005 the Gulf News ran an opinion piece by Dr. Abdullah Al Madani, a Bahrain-based Gulf researcher and writer on Asian affairs, on the recent appointment of a Muslim to the position of Chief of Army in Thaliand. Al Madani comments, "Extremist individuals and groups in the Arab and Islamic world... accuse [Thailand] of discriminating against its Muslim minority, some 6 million or nearly 10 per cent of the country's total population of 65.5 million. This has been repeated more often since early 2004 when the Thai army began a military campaign to curb an insurgency in the Muslim-majority southernmost provinces of Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat.

But 'Buddhist' Thailand has recently proven that it is a civilised secular state where all citizens have equal rights, regardless of their religious and ethnic background, including the right to hold key official posts.

King Bhumibol Adulyadej earlier this month endorsed a decision by the government to give the top army post, for the first time, to a Muslim General from central Thailand... The move could help counter the impression that the government discriminates against Muslims and comes at a time when more than 30,000 troops are involved in operations aimed at ending months of shooting and bomb attacks by Muslim rebels."