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A Dialogue on Religious and Cultural Diversity: A Case of Muslim students on the Hijab at school PDF Print E-mail

A Dialogue on “Religious and Cultural Diversity: A Case of Muslim students on the Hijab at school”

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 The Dialogue on “Religious and Cultural Diversity: A Case of Muslim students on the Hijab at school” on Tuesday May 10, 2011 at the Research Institute for Languages and Cultures of Asia, Mahidol University, attracted a lot of attention from students, teachers, Buddhist lay and monks, Muslims, religious leaders and the media.  The following paragraphs provide a summary of several media reports.

 

Clinical Professor Dr. Phiyaskol Skolsattayakon, President of Mahidol University, opened and welcomed all people for the panel and the dialogue. He emphasized the importance of telling the truth and listening to each other. Also, he gave an example related to his field; physicians in the past did not wear the Hijab out of hygienic concerns. However, in Muslim countries such as Malaysia the practice of wearing the Hijab in the medical field is accepted. 

Khovsod Newspaper reported that at least one high school in Bangkok does not allow Muslim students to wear the hijab to school. This matter could create misunderstanding and conflict on issues of cultural diversity and identity in Thailand. Mahidol University’s Research Center for Peace Building – with support from IRC Thailand - organized a dialogue on “Religious and Cultural Diversity: A Case of Muslim students on the Hijab at school.” The first part of the event is a panel discussion on the different perspectives of issues in language, religion, culture, and human rights in Thai society. In the second part is a dialogue to have a deep listening from all stakeholders on the hijab issue. Understanding and respecting different cultural identities will pave the way for compassion and understanding and will eliminate any suspicion of ‘otherness’ in Thai society (May 5, 2011, Volume 21, No. 7462 p.28).

 

Thairat newspaper reported that the events that took place at Wat Nong Chok high school should initiate a dialogue and not an argument as religions promote peace, not war. Mr. Jiraroj Muhammadkul from Muslims for Peace said that wearing the Hijab is similar to uniform of ordained people in other religions.  It is also a part of the Muslim identity. Muslims do not seek conflict and wearing the Hijab is a right that does not constitute infringement. (May 11, 2011)

Although ones could not conclude and give the absolute answer for this controversial issue, it was really a good opportunity to open the safe space for both Buddhist and Muslim people to listen to each other with loving kindness, without prejudgment and with empathy.  It was challenging for them whether they could bring the good teaching such as honesty and self critical to the moment of conflict and tension during the time of dialogue or not. Under the regulation of dialogue, they are equal to listen to the different conviction and encounter with the common nature of human beings in searching for security. Mahidol University was pleased to propose this process of dialogue as a peaceful method for conflict transformation to Thai society.  
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Research Center for Peace Building (Old) Institute of Human Rights and Peace Studies, Mahidol University
999 Puthamonthon 4th Road, Salaya, Puthamonthon, Nakornpathom 73170 Thailand
Tel: +662 849 6072-5 Fax: +662 849 6075
Email: pewww@mahidol.ac.th