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Buddhist fury: Religion and violence in southern Thailand


Buddhist furyPublisher's description

For many people, the concept of Buddhist violence is an oxymoron. The image of a Buddhist monk holding a handgun or the view of a militarized Buddhist monastery challenges our popular images of Buddhism. However, these sights actually exist in southern Thailand. One of the lesser known but longest running conflicts of Southeast Asia is in Thailand’s southernmost provinces. Among the various causes of the conflict is religious division. Although Thailand’s population is 92% Buddhist, over 85% of the people in the southernmost provinces are Muslim. Since 2004, the Thai government has imposed martial law over the three provinces in this territory and fought with a grassroots militant Malay Muslim insurgency. Buddhist Fury examines five different Buddhist dimensions of the conflict and places them within a global context. Through fieldwork conducted in the conflict area, the book follows the southern Thai Buddhist monks and their practices in Thailand’s deep south. Many Buddhist practices remain unchanged. Buddhist monks continue to chant, counsel the laity, and accrue merit. Yet at the same time, some monks zealously advocate Buddhist nationalism, act as covert military officers, and equip themselves with guns. The book examines the methods by which religion alters the nature of the conflict and the dangers inherent in this transformation.

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