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The Political Accommodation of Salafi-Reformist Movements in Thailand

Salae, Hafiz (2017) The Political Accommodation of Salafi-Reformist Movements in Thailand. PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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Salae_H_POLIS_PhD_2017.pdf - Final eThesis - complete (pdf)
Restricted until 1 May 2023.


This thesis examines the political accommodation of contemporary Salafi-reformist movements into Thailand’s dual context of a Buddhist majority centralised state and the Malay Muslim minority. The two chosen case studies are Assalam (est. 1977) and the Muslim Group for Peace (MGP) (est. 2001) situated in the Deep South and Bangkok respectively. On the study of these movements’ ideological, organisational, and behavioural dimensions, I have developed three conceptual frameworks: Islamic reformism, network-based movements, and accommodation, which is based on the literature of Islamism, Islamic social movements and activism and Thai Muslim politics. While previous studies of Islamic reformists in Thailand have focused on the role of individuals as a unit of analysis, this thesis looks into a larger level of social movement organisation, without ignoring the importance of influential leaders. This thesis also contributes to the literature of Thai Muslim politics by identifying ideological differences between Salafism and reformism. This thesis argues that in their attempts to domesticate their Islamic reformist ideologies into Thailand’s socio-political structures, Salafis adopted pragmatism as an essential approach that enabled them to become successfully accommodated. Their organisational strategies relied on the creation of network-based movements encompassing educational, media, social, and political organisations. Equipped by internal strength of modernist elements and external political opportunities and constraints, the formalisation of organisations became a transition point that made the movements shift from the narrow rigid Salafi positions to the broader socially engaged reformist perspectives. Thus, their activisms expanded from organising religious educational programmes to providing religious-social services. In pursuit of accommodation, it is necessary for both movements to balance the compromise between their Salafi-reformist ideologies and socio-political realities. Although these pragmatic efforts resulted in relatively successful accommodation with the Thai state and better recognition from Malay Muslim society – with a significant degree of latent conflict and competition, the movements failed to maintain a relationship with their purist Salafi networks.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Islamism, Salafi, Islamic reformism, Muslim politics, Islamic activism, social movement, accommodation, Thailand,
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law (Leeds) > School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Depositing User: Mr Hafiz Salae
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2018 14:12
Last Modified: 24 Apr 2018 14:12
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20038

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