Volume 5, Issue 3, 2017
Religion and Struggle
Marte Nilsen, Shintaro Hara
Religious Motivation In Political Struggles
The Case Of Thailand’s Patani Conflict
The collective term “jihadist conflict” is used widely in academia, policy, and the media to describe a range of different political and religious conflicts. While all these conflicts are fought by Muslim groups who in one way or another regard their struggle as a jihad, the goals, motivation, and interpretation of jihad differ significantly from one conflict to another. The branding of movements as jihadist is driven by analysts, governments, and the media on the one hand, and by violent extremist groups with a transnational agenda on the other. While this branding is often embraced by those who pursue violent means, be they militant groups engaged in intrastate conflicts or disenfranchised individuals carrying out terrorist acts, the brand itself does not help us understand the fundamental conflict dynamics. Using the example of the Patani conflict in southern Thailand, this article illuminates how a political conflict may be misinterpreted if the religious motivation of militants is generalized rather than analyzed in its own terms.