Heck, it worked in Spain, why not try it in Thailand? From AP, with thanks to Twostellas:
The Thai government must deliver on its promises of economic development in Muslim-majority southern Thailand if it wants to end a spate of violent attacks in the area, Islamic leaders say.
Peace in the south hinges on finishing projects such as an Islamic university and a center for producing food that meets Islamic dietary rules, Muslim leaders told the Associated Press.
“Until the government gives priority to social and economic development of Muslim communities, the violence will not cease,” Abdulrahman Abdulsamad, chairman of the Islamic Council in the southern province of Narathiwat, said in an interview Saturday.
Several development programs for the south will be discussed at a special Cabinet meeting this week.
Violence in the south has killed about 50 people – mostly security personnel and government workers – since Jan. 4, when unidentified attackers raided a military camp and stole hundreds of weapons. Almost simultaneously, 21 schools were torched.
No one has claimed responsibility, but some officials blame Muslim separatists, emboldened by the growth of Southeast Asian Islamic militant movements such as the al-Qaida-linked Jemaah Islamiyah.
About 90% of Thailand’s 63 million people are Buddhists, but several provinces in the far south have predominantly Muslim populations.
A Muslim separatist movement simmered the south for decades, but faded after a government amnesty in the late 1980s.
However, the recent violence speaks of long-held resentment that southern Thai Muslims have felt toward the central government for its failure to alleviate their poverty and recognize their distinct culture and language, Yawi.
Waedueramae Mamingchi, chairman of the Islamic Council in the southern province of Pattani, said Thai Muslims in the area feel neglected by the government – but enjoy close relations with Arab countries, which have provided them with religious, educational and financial support.
Arab money supports more than 1,500 religious school in the southern provinces.
“80% of prominent Thai Muslims, including politicians and civil servants, were educated in the Arab world,” said Waedueramae, who studied Islam in Saudi Arabia from 1978 to 1989.
He said the south’s social problems were linked to economic development, and that the government-supported plan of making his province a hub for the production of halal food – which conforms to Islamic dietary rules – could create jobs for up to 5,000 people.
“Thousands of people will have work here, instead of having to go to (neighboring) Malaysia. This way we can resolve the social problems,” he said.
He added that anger among local Muslims has also been fueled by Thailand’s deployment of troops to help U.S.-led forces in Iraq.
“Muslims do not like any country that supports the unjust aggression,” he said.
The southern violence has been seen as a setback for the government of Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who has tried to calm the tension by announcing a three-year plan to help the area prosper.
The Cabinet last month approved a $18 million budget to improve the area’s security and infrastructure, including its water supply, electricity and roads. Tuesday, it will hold a special meeting in Pattani to listen to Muslim leaders’ grievances and economic growth proposals.
At least two projects will be discussed: the opening of a campus of the al-Azhar University of Cairo, Egypt – the Muslim world’s premier college of Islamic theology – and a halal food production center.