Southern Thailand : a cosmic war?

Andre, Virginie 2009, Southern Thailand : a cosmic war?. In Khatab, Sayed (ed), Radicalisation crossing borders : new directions in Islamist and Jihadist political, intellectual and theological thought and practice, Global Terrorism Research Centre, Melbourne, Vic., pp.169-189.

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Title Southern Thailand : a cosmic war?
Author(s) Andre, Virginie
Title of book Radicalisation crossing borders : new directions in Islamist and Jihadist political, intellectual and theological thought and practice
Editor(s) Khatab, Sayed
Publication date 2009
Chapter number 1
Total chapters 1
Start page 169
End page 189
Total pages 21
Publisher Global Terrorism Research Centre
Place of Publication Melbourne, Vic.
Keyword(s) terrorism
identity politics
Summary In the 1970s secessionists in Southern Thailand described the Thai state as "colonialist" constituted by "Siamese fascist officials"1 who had "illegally colonised Patani". The flavour of this discourse shows the importance of historical context in shaping the way resistance movements interpret their own struggles. In the case of the resistances groups in Southern Thailand, it reflects the influence of the wider international anti-colonial movement and its embrace of nationalism and socialism. Translating these concepts into a political agenda was complicated by the centrality of Islam in defining the grievances of the Patani Muslims. Islam was the reason they were considered marginal by wider Buddhist society and hence it was Islam that become a core identity marker and the fulcrum upon which the resistance movement grew. Merging the predominately secular themes of anti-colonialism with Islam was complex, and as a result for much of its existence the insurgency failed to define clearly an ideology beyond the general maxim of 'liberating the homeland' to create the Republic of Patani. By the onset of the twenty first century situation had changed and although the goal remained the same for many Thai Muslims it was based on firmer ontological ground. By defining itself in Islamist terms, the separatist movement managed to distance itself from the secular concepts that defined the Thai state ('nationalism') and which precluded support for its struggle from other states ('sovereignty'). The objective now is the creation of Al Fatoni Darussalam (Islamic Land of Patani) by "purging all Siamese infidels out of our territory to purify our religion and culture"2 (HRW, 2007: 45). In short, the shift in terminology indicates an ideological shift in the way the insurgents frame the conflict but also, more importantly, in their identification of the 'enemy'. 3 The 'liberation of the Republic' has now evolved into a 'struggle to liberate an Islamic Land'. From being a 'colonialist' and 'fascist' state, the Thai state has assumed the status of 'infidel'. The insurgents' embrace of Islamism as the organising principle of their resistance is progressively transforming the conflict into what Juergensmeyer has called a 'Cosmic War' (Juergensmeyer, 2003). This paper will further explore this ideological shift by analysing for the first time primary sources such as propaganda leaflets, interviews and insurgent interrogation reports that were collected during recent fieldwork in Southern Thailand between 2006 and 2008.
ISBN 0975019341
Language eng
Field of Research 169999 Studies in Human Society not elsewhere classified
Socio Economic Objective 970116 Expanding Knowledge through Studies of Human Society
HERDC Research category B2.1 Book chapter in non-commercially published book
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