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Islam in Cambodia

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24 February 2011 16:12

Cambodia's small but growing Islamic community — perhaps 500,000 in a total population approaching 15 million — receives very little attention, even within Cambodia itself. Following the arrest of Jemaah Islamiyah leader Hambali in 2003 and the revelation that he had spent months living clandestinely in Phnom Penh before being found in Thailand, there was a brief flurry on interest in the community and I published a Lowy Issues Brief on the subject in November 2004.

One of the conclusions offered in that brief was that external aid to the Islamic community in Cambodia, particularly from the the Middle East, was causing divisions within it, as some groups were rejecting the previously relaxed observation of Islam and the readiness to accept syncretic forms of local ceremonies that had characterised major sections of the community.

That these divisions remain an active issue today is made clear in a recent article by a researcher from the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which repays reading.

Photo of the Nur ul-lhsan Mosque in Phnom Penh by Flickr user Jonas Hansel.

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