Thailand’s three southern provinces are the only areas in which Muslims constitute a majority of the population. After a month of fasting for Ramadan, Thai Muslims celebrated Idul Fitri, day to mark the end of the holiday, with renewed hope the violence which has wracked the provinces will soon end. A Muslim led insurgency which began in January, 2004 has led to the deaths of over 3,400 people. Thai Muslims charge the dominant Buddhist government refuses to acknowledge the rights of minorities. In response, the Thai army has been heavily engaged in military actions in the area. Mohammad Rahman, as he left his mosque said: “Today at least, we are not afraid of shootings or murder. I hope the momentum for less violence will continue.” Unfortunately, his area witnessed ten deaths within a week.
The Muslim led insurgency in southern Thailand is another example of what happens when governments fail to take a proactive stance in ensuring minorities enjoy equal rights. A resort to military attacks is one method of dealing with insurgencies, but so are education, economic assistance, and ensuring people are represented at all levels of government.