Balance, Moderation, and the 'Middle Path': Toward Trust between Muslims and Theravada Buddhists in Southern Thailand
When looking at strategies leading toward conflict-resolution in the troubled Muslim-dominated deep South of Thailand one should also take into account existing touching-points between Islam - understood by many of its followers as an all-encompassing approach toward life that is, nevertheless, grounded in spirituality - and Theravada Buddhism which is practised by the overwhelming rest of the Thai citizens. Theravada (Pali for ‘Teaching of the Elders’ or ‘Ancient Teaching’) is the oldest surviving Buddhist school. It is relatively conservative and generally closest to early Buddhism. Elsewhere this writer has argued that the currently ongoing conflict in southern Thailand is mainly not a religious one, but rather the result of mutual deep distrust between a far-away central administration in Bangkok and the local Malay Muslims in the South. However, this writer would like to argue that a meaningful dialogue between truly religious people on both sides of the fence could help to dissolve tensions and misconceptions.