Thailand: “It Is Time to Arm Thai Buddhists”

  • Peter Lehr


In the case of Thailand, very similar mechanisms are at work when it comes to the rise of extremist Buddhism—yet, there are important differences: on the one hand, outbreaks of militant Buddhism seem to be few and far between as compared to Sri Lanka and Burma, with the first one occurring during the Cold War in the 1970s and long since forgotten, while the latest one targeting Muslims since 2004 seems to be regionally restricted to Thailand’s Deep South. On the other, however, the phenomenon of ‘soldier monks’ (thahān phra) has been reported by several observers, that is soldiers who ordain as monks while keeping their weapons (in a blatant violation of the monastic rules) in order to protect temples in areas exposed to the Malay-Muslim insurgents currently active in the Deep South. Hence, this case study will examine the religio-political history of Buddhism in Thailand, then home in on the Deep South and the issue of ‘soldier monks.’


Thai-ness Monarchy Sangha Cold War Holy War Communists Kittiwutthō Malay-Muslims Soldier monks (thahān phra


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Lehr
    • 1
  1. 1.School of International RelationsUniversity of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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