• Published Date: 14/06/2023
  • by: UNDP

Unheard Voices: Untold Stories of Muslim Youth Through Youth Dialogue

Imagine a Muslim family using taxi services, dressed in traditional clothing, and receiving strange and uncomfortable expressions from the driver. But family members are not really surprised either, as they are used to being stared at and having to explain their culture and values, as a Muslim family living in a country where Muslims are the minority.

Because the stories of the Muslim community may have never been discussed in mainstream education, mainstream media, and other aspects. Therefore, sometimes social services or activities in Thailand may not be aligned with their religious practices, resulting in their lack of participation in society. Therefore, we invite you to communicate their way of life from their perspective through a youth dialogue called ‘Leave No One Behind’. This is a dialogue between young people and various identity groups, including Muslims.


The problems and obstacles that Muslim youth in Thailand have to face are caused by the complex social and political issues of the country. Most Muslims in Thailand live in the southern provinces in Thailand, and although they are Thai, their culture and religious practices are different from most Buddhist populations. This may lead to the feeling of being left out of Muslim youth that we never thought of. Today, we invite you to explore the problems faced by Thai Muslim youth from this dialogue.


Social biases faced by Muslims

The first major topic of conversation during the dialogue is social prejudice. Muslim youth in Thailand face discrimination and prejudice because of their religious and cultural practices. When taking time to discuss the obstacles and challenges of being a Muslim, this seems to be a common experience among Thai Muslims. It can appear in the form of social exclusion and stereotypes. Negative attitudes towards them may make it difficult for Muslim youth to fully participate in society. This is due to a lack of awareness and education about the Muslim population in Thailand. This may lead to the fear of initiating the conversations that would help with the understanding among religions. Because of this, many Muslims have to try very hard to work together through media and community engagement projects to address these issues.

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When “Home” is not a safe place

When asked about the main obstacles in life, there is always one story that has been brought up by Muslim people in the South. The three southern border provinces of Thailand have been faced with political instability and violence for many years. This has created a sense of danger and fear among Muslim youth in the South, thus limiting their future opportunities. To fix this problem, more conversations need to be initiated on this issue. Peacebuilding and conflict resolution initiatives should be established. This may include initiatives that promote dialogue and understanding between communities,  as well as projects addressing the causes of conflict such as poverty, and inequality. and discrimination Muslim youth in Thailand often experience economic disadvantage due to inequality in the community. This may make it difficult for them to find work or access economic opportunities. This could have a long-term effect on their future. This is the main point raised in the conversation all the time.


Parents of most Muslim youth in the southern region do not encourage their children to go to school outside the province due to the violence that is happening, resulting in them choosing to keep their children at home to help take care of each other’s safety. This is mostly caused by safety concerns and low income due to limited career opportunities. It is directly linked to political instability in the area, which is still the main obstacle that is extremely difficult to solve.


Access to education is an ongoing challenge for Muslim youth in Thailand, especially in the southern provinces. Education systems in these areas are often underfunded and understaffed. This results in limited resources and facilities. Moreover, Muslim youth that attend schools with a Buddhist majority may face discrimination and prejudice from teachers and classmates, which makes it difficult for them to adjust to the school environment.. To fix this problem, more investment in education in southern provinces is needed. This may include building new schools, hiring more teachers, and providing resources and support to students. In addition, there is a need for greater awareness and education about the importance of understanding for all members of society, regardless of their background or religion.


An environment that is suitable for adaptation is also necessary. More and more Muslim youth want to study in Bangkok for a better quality of education. But instead faced problems caused by the overlook of religious beliefs, such as finding halal food. There are few or no halal food restaurants provided in educational institutions. This is another reason why young Muslims may feel that they are not part of society and are being ignored.

Through this dialogue, we learn and understand more about the lifestyle and practices of the Muslim population, including the situation of Muslims in the three southern border provinces. As Thai Muslim youth face challenges that we may not have anticipated, due to unfamiliarity with religious practices and the complex social and political landscape of the country, it is necessary to address these challenges. More investment is needed in education, economic development, and peace initiatives.

It is important that solving this problem is the responsibility of all religions. It is necessary to raise awareness and education about the Muslim community in Thailand to combat discrimination and prejudice. By working together, we can create a more inclusive and equal society for all members of the community.

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