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Bangkok, Thailand,
Buddhism may become Thai state religion
Thailand, for all purposes already a Buddhist country, appears closer to formally making Buddhism its state religion.

Such a step would be a victory for the Buddhist monks who have been holding public rallies to press their demands. But it could also lead to further divisions in the already violent southern regions which have a large Muslim population.

The demand to make Buddhism the state religion comes at a time when the military-backed government seeks to pass a constitution, hold elections and restore democracy in the country by the end of this year, reports the International Herald Tribune.

The current draft of the constitution has no provision to make Buddhism the state religion but Gen. Sonthi Boonyaratglin, leader of current government, has said, "If a stipulation in the charter to this effect would lead to peace in the country, then it would be better to include it." One analyst told the Herald-Tribune, "It's going to play into the hands of the militants, and it's going to feed the disenchantment of even moderate Muslims who already feel marginalized." The campaign by Buddhists stems apparently from growing violence against them in southern provinces. That has included bombings of their temples, the beheadings of their monks and killings of their teachers and residents in the south.

Source: United Press International (UPI)