An Indian Civilizational Perspective

Religious trouble in South East Asia

Its the same story in every country now… a strong right wing and an overzealous “secularists” …while the minorities grow more and more belligerant and poorer!

Buddhist monks are being murdered, Christian schoolchildren beheaded and dissenters blown up. Southeast Asia’s peaceful co-existence among religions is under siege, from Bangkok to Jakarta. Meanwhile, politicians and military leaders are using Islamic fervor to boost their own power.

Pheewat Tirasato is normally in a hurry to reach the scene of the crime when he’s needed. After all, he only has to throw on a saffron robe and a pair of rubber sandals and hop into the car he is provided by the temple where he serves as a monk. But when his mobile phone rang on Oct. 16, he could only advise the caller to lock his doors and pray that the army would arrive soon. “I don’t know if I can make it there alive,” he says, and tells the caller that he’ll be there the next day.

It’s a cautiousness that has probably saved his life. By the time Tirasato, who provides comfort to the victims of violence, finally arrived at Promprasith Temple 20 kilometers from the southern Thai city of Narathiwat, large sections of the complex had been destroyed.

Local residents told the “monk of reconciliation,” as Tirasato is called here, that about 20 masked men attacked the temple complex. “Allah is great,” they shouted before killing two temple novices. When a 76-year-old monk stood in front of the attackers in an attempt to appease them, they slit his throat and threw his body into a fire.

The army couldn’t help because fallen trees blocked the access roads to the temple. But Tirasato was also of little use to the surviving residents of the temple complex. “Hatred robbed them of their voices,” he says.

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