How Muslim integration can work in Thailand

Reading Time: 2 minutes
Ban Huai Sai Tai1_Thailand_Maierbrugger
The mosque of Ban Huai Sai Tai in Petchaburi (all pictures © Arno Maierbrugger)

Thailand is known for a decade-long violent insurgency in its Muslim south, and news about attacks and bombings from there are normally not exactly edifying. However, there are other examples that don’t make it into the spotlight very often.

Such an example about how a Muslim integration can work in an otherwise Buddhist society is a small rural Islamic community in Cha Am, around 170 kilometers south of Bangkok and not even near the Muslim districts in the far south.

Ban Huai Sai Tai community in Petchaburi province is a royally initiated project that started as early as in the 1970s and builds upon Thailand’s royal sufficiency economy concept, and the community since focused on agriculture, raising of dairy cattle and goats, food, handicraft and leather skins.

Ban Huai Sai Tai5_Thailand_Maierbrugger
Ban Huai Sai Tai community

The integration of the community worked so well that later on, in the 1980s, a study center was established to create initiatives to further develop the region, including job creation and the deployment of advanced methods of reforestation, water resource management and soil improvement.

At the same time, as the community grew and the mosque area as its center was expanded, people from nearby non-Muslim districts came to the study center to learn about new techniques in farming and agricultural processes, says Udorn Manmanee, village headman of the Ban Huai Sai Tai community.

This, aside from reflecting the fact that peaceful coexistence of religions is apparently easily possible, has led to the deployment of useful techniques such as the planting of vetiver grass to prevent soil erosion, the first area in Thailand to do so.

Meanwhile, the Ban Huai Sai Tai community was chosen by Silpakorn University, a Bangkok-based public university which operates a Pechaburi-based information technology campus, as a model community to develop Petchaburi into a creative district, according to Assistant Professor Alice Thienprasert, Director of the Research and Development Institute at Silpakorn University.

Assistant Professor Alice Thienprasert, Director of the Research and Development Institute at Silpakorn University_Maierbrugger
Assistant Professor Alice Thienprasert, Director of the Research and Development Institute at Silpakorn University

The involvement of the university has led to new ventures, such as to develop new products from agricultural residues such as local lead tree branches that are normally used as goat food. Students found a way to turn them into biofuels, and the community discovered a way to integrate the trees’ seeds into local handicraft.

Apart from fresh goat dairy being sold as a delicacy, goat skins from Ban Huai Sai Tai community are highly sought-after because of their special tanning method, which is, additionally, environmentally friendly. The goat skins fetch high prices and, as decorative objects or as textiles, are known for their unique design.

It is also planned to make the community an agro-tourism destination for domestic and international visitors who are interested how agrarian lifestyle in a self-sufficient cooperative works in the 21st century

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Ban Huai Sai Tai4_Thailand_Maierbrugger

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

The mosque of Ban Huai Sai Tai in Petchaburi (all pictures © Arno Maierbrugger)

Thailand is known for a decade-long violent insurgency in its Muslim south, and news about attacks and bombings from there are normally not exactly edifying. However, there are other examples that don’t make it into the spotlight very often.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ban Huai Sai Tai1_Thailand_Maierbrugger
The mosque of Ban Huai Sai Tai in Petchaburi (all pictures © Arno Maierbrugger)

Thailand is known for a decade-long violent insurgency in its Muslim south, and news about attacks and bombings from there are normally not exactly edifying. However, there are other examples that don’t make it into the spotlight very often.

Such an example about how a Muslim integration can work in an otherwise Buddhist society is a small rural Islamic community in Cha Am, around 170 kilometers south of Bangkok and not even near the Muslim districts in the far south.

Ban Huai Sai Tai community in Petchaburi province is a royally initiated project that started as early as in the 1970s and builds upon Thailand’s royal sufficiency economy concept, and the community since focused on agriculture, raising of dairy cattle and goats, food, handicraft and leather skins.

Ban Huai Sai Tai5_Thailand_Maierbrugger
Ban Huai Sai Tai community

The integration of the community worked so well that later on, in the 1980s, a study center was established to create initiatives to further develop the region, including job creation and the deployment of advanced methods of reforestation, water resource management and soil improvement.

At the same time, as the community grew and the mosque area as its center was expanded, people from nearby non-Muslim districts came to the study center to learn about new techniques in farming and agricultural processes, says Udorn Manmanee, village headman of the Ban Huai Sai Tai community.

This, aside from reflecting the fact that peaceful coexistence of religions is apparently easily possible, has led to the deployment of useful techniques such as the planting of vetiver grass to prevent soil erosion, the first area in Thailand to do so.

Meanwhile, the Ban Huai Sai Tai community was chosen by Silpakorn University, a Bangkok-based public university which operates a Pechaburi-based information technology campus, as a model community to develop Petchaburi into a creative district, according to Assistant Professor Alice Thienprasert, Director of the Research and Development Institute at Silpakorn University.

Assistant Professor Alice Thienprasert, Director of the Research and Development Institute at Silpakorn University_Maierbrugger
Assistant Professor Alice Thienprasert, Director of the Research and Development Institute at Silpakorn University

The involvement of the university has led to new ventures, such as to develop new products from agricultural residues such as local lead tree branches that are normally used as goat food. Students found a way to turn them into biofuels, and the community discovered a way to integrate the trees’ seeds into local handicraft.

Apart from fresh goat dairy being sold as a delicacy, goat skins from Ban Huai Sai Tai community are highly sought-after because of their special tanning method, which is, additionally, environmentally friendly. The goat skins fetch high prices and, as decorative objects or as textiles, are known for their unique design.

It is also planned to make the community an agro-tourism destination for domestic and international visitors who are interested how agrarian lifestyle in a self-sufficient cooperative works in the 21st century

Ban Huai Sai Tai3_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai4_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai6_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai7_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai8_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai9_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai10_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai11_Thailand_Maierbrugger

Ban Huai Sai Tai12_Thailand_Maierbrugger

.

Ban Huai Sai Tai2_Thailand_Maierbrugger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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