Jakarta – BRIN Public Relations. Islam in Southeast Asia, especially in the archipelago, is part of struggle of vertical conflicts in three countries, namely the Philippines, Thailand and Indonesia. As national minority communities such as in Mindanao, Philippines and Pattani, Thailand, or majority communities such as Aceh and Papua in Indonesia, vertical conflicts in these three countries have not subsided until now. Both sides form political identities that are not easy to accommodate each other.

Reforms took place in the Catholic-majority Philippines in the mid-1980s, marked by the people power movement that overthrew dictator Marcos. While in Thailand, which is predominantly Buddhist, the early 1990s were marked by demilitarization. Meanwhile, in Muslim-majority Indonesia, the end of the 1990s era was marked by the fall of Suharto and demilitarization.

This was conveyed by Ahmad Suaedy, when presenting his research entitled “Islam, Conflict Resolution and Democracy in Southeast Asia: Case Studies in Pattani Southern Thailand, Mindanao Southern Philippines and Aceh and Papua in Indonesia,” Thursday (17/3), in the BRIN Talent Scouting, Post doctoral & Visiting Researcher Seminar, organized by the Directorate of Talent Management of the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN).

This candidate for the Visiting Researcher program from the Faculty of Islam Nusantara, Universitas Nahdlatul Ulama Indonesia (UNUSIA) Jakarta, explained that local identity plays a major role in the formulation of their aspirations, which are not easily accommodated into national identities. “On the contrary, homogenic nationalism ideology also makes it unaccommodative to local aspirations,” he said.

“The problem is that differences and contradictions have implications for inequality and injustice. In addition, there will be discrimination in many ways, both in cultural life and in distribution of the economy, politics, and natural resources,” explained Suaedy.

The dynamics of this protracted conflict have prompted the re-questioning of the contextuality and effectiveness of democracy in resolving conflicts in third world countries. Not only that, he explained, community conflicts in Muslim-majority areas have the potential to cause inequality and discrimination. This research is designed to answer how each party carries out identity transformation between religion and local Islamic culture and the national cultural identity, as well as Papuan locality, in search of common ground.

“From a certain point of view, this conflict is a struggle for local, religious, and cultural, as well as national identities. This conflict expresses demands and claims of rights between traditionality and modernity,” he explained. “One has a high cultural and religious weight, while the other stands out for its secular values,” he added.

For 10 years, he has been doing research on this topic, but it is separated between Mindanao and Pattani and Aceh and Papua. In addition, his previous research emphasized the role of Muslim civil society as a social movement in seeking peace solution. According to him, this research can in substance and strategy synergize with other research and teams at BRIN, for example research on Papua, ASEAN and conflict, especially in the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Organization (OR-IPSH BRIN).