Muslim struggle for SharÊ’ah courts in Thailand: An analytical study
Muslims, especially in southern Thailand, have been struggling to lead their lives according to SharÊ’ah. They have been demanding independence or at least autonomy especially for the southern part of Thailand from the central government. Their aim is to transform the socio-economic and political set-up in the South along IslÉmic lines. They began with the demand for Shariah Courts to be established in the region. This struggle for SharÊ’ah court is in accordance with the fundamental right enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that stipulates that every person has the right to practice his/her religion. This is also required by religion. Muslims are under obligation to live according to the IslÉmic way of life and to settle disputes among fellow Muslims through SharÊ’ah courts. However, Muslims are denied the right to SharÊ’ah court. There are no procedural laws and adequate substantive laws to govern their practical lives. The mass media highlights the insurgency that is taking place in southern Thailand but not the inequality and injustices Muslims face in the region. Muslims have been marginalized in almost every aspect despite being the citizens of the kingdom. This paper analyses the current situation regarding the status of SharÊ’ah courts in Thailand, analyses albeit briefly the injustices meted out to the Muslims and argues for granting the right to SharÊ’ah court in Thailand.