Thailand monks rally to give Buddhism constitutional status

[JURIST] Several hundred Thai monks rallied outside the parliament building in Bangkok Wednesday to demand that the new Thai constitution declare Buddhism the national religion. The ruling Council for National Security [official website; Wikipedia backgrounder], headed by the Muslim General Sonthi Boonyaratglin [BBC profile], appears to be open to the suggestion. Although conservative Buddhists have long sought to have their religion designated as the official state faith, liberal Buddhists and Thailand's Muslim minority have opposed the idea for fear it would lead to government-enforced discrimination. The current draft constitution [JURIST report], completed earlier this month, does not specify a state religion.

Thailand is presently governed by an interim constitution [JURIST report] imposed by the military leaders who seized power from former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra [JURIST news archive] in a coup [JURIST report] last year. The Constitutional Drafting Council was established [JURIST report] in January and given a six-month deadline to prepare the new constitution. Military leaders have said that if this new draft constitution is not approved by the public, they will impose their own constitution. ABC Australia has more.

 

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