[QODLink]
Archive
Muslim cleric to defuse Thai tension

The head of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic group, has begun a mission in 

Last Modified: 28 Mar 2005 13:05 GMT
Muzadi (L) met Thaksin early on Monday in Bangkok

The head of the Nahdlatul Ulama, the world's largest Islamic group, has begun a mission in Thailand to help ease tensions in the Muslim-majority south where an insurgency is raging.

The Indonesia-based Ulama chairman Hasyim Muzadi and his five-member team met Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra early on Monday to discuss the conflict that has claimed more than 630 lives since January 2004.

  

Foreign Minister Kantathi Suphamongkhon said the two men agreed the insurgents were using religion to fuel the violence, and that improved education in the Muslim-dominated south was key to boosting living standards and ending economic problems in the region.

  

Muzadi was granted a royal audience with King Bhumibol Adulyadej on Monday evening, and was due to meet Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders.

 

He and his team are to travel through the southern provinces along the Malaysian border, Kantathi said.

  

"He said misunderstandings could be solved if we speak frankly and exchange information," Kantathi added.

 

Hopes

  

Thailand hopes the visit by the Ulama team will help improve the situation in the violence-wracked south, where one man was shot dead on the weekend and 15 were injured after insurgents bombed and ambushed a maintenance car carrying police and soldiers on a railway.

Violence surged after Thai police
killed 87 Muslim protesters

  

Another five people, including one policeman and one former policeman, were injured in a shooting late on Sunday when two men on motorcycle opened fire on people sitting outside a house in Pattani's Sai Buri district.

  

"We hope the visit will help, as their mission represents the Muslim world coming here to find the truth," Kantathi said.

  

Muzadi warned that "a military approach only makes the fundamentalists more and more strong."

  

"Problem solving is not only with a military approach, but also a justice approach, an economic approach, and also an educational approach," he said.

 

More meetings

  

On Wednesday, Musazi is due to travel to Thailand's south to meet the chairmen of provincial Islamic committees in the Muslim majority provinces of Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat. 

 

"Problem solving is not only with a military approach, but also a justice approach, an economic approach, and also an educational approach"

Hasyim Muzadi,
Nahdlatul Ulama

 

He is also set to visit a royal project and an Islamic school in Pattani province, and also to meet the chairman of the southern military command.

  

Muzadi, who was invited by Thailand to visit, also plans to meet the Indonesian community in Bangkok on Thursday before returning on Friday to Indonesia.

Source:
AFP
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
Swathes of the British electorate continue to show discontent with all things European, including immigration.
Astronomers have captured images of primordial galaxies that helped light up the cosmos after the Big Bang.
Critics assail British photographer's portrayal of indigenous people, but he says he's highlighting their plight.
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
Featured
No one convicted after 58 people gunned down in cold blood in 2009 in the country's worst political mass killing.
While hosting the World Internet Conference, China tries Tiananmen activist for leaking 'state secrets' to US website.
Once staunchly anti-immigrant, some observers say the conservative US state could lead the way in documenting migrants.
NGOs say women without formal documentation are being imprisoned after giving birth in Malaysia.
Public stripping and assault of woman and rival protests thereafter highlight Kenya's gender-relations divide.