Thailand's Islamic separatist movement

These men gather to talk about the six killings in the past week and other recent killings. That's become normal around here. The most recent attack happened early in the morning when a village headman accused of being an insurgent sympathizer was killed in front of his home. This witness too scared to give his name said the killer belongs to the Thai security forces. The killer was wearing the kind of bullet proof vest the police and military use around here. These killings have only fueled fear and hatred among ethnic Malay Muslims who fill the majority in the southern provinces along the Malaysian border. The men joked about how the investigators won't come to this region. This friend of the victim says the investigators are scared of coming. He says this murder will probably go unsolved. The sense of injustice here is palpable and grievances go back decades; Malay Muslims still refer to Thais as Siamese, a term from a century ago when the Siamese kingdom annexed independent Malay that existed here. The official religion of the kingdom and Thailand is Buddhism and that's brought a religious tension to the ethnic Malay here. Modernization has also sharpened differences. This cleric says there's a lot of Siamese culture coming here and it's ruining the Islamic Malay culture is being destroyed. Adding to the bitterness is a longstanding Thai policy of trying to assimilate Muslims. School lessons are mostly taught in Thai, a foreign language to the Malay Muslims here. The schools are officially secular.

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