Phnom Penh’s Fethullah Gülen School as an Alternative to Prevalent Forms of Education for Cambodia’s Muslim Minority

Abstract

Following the end of Khmer Rouge rule (1975-79), the Cham Muslim minority of Cambodia began to rebuild community structures and religious infrastructure. It was only after 1993 that they became recipients of international Islamic aid, mostly for the establishment of mosques, schools and orphanages. Now Cambodia boasts several Muslim schools, financed and/or run by Saudi Arabian and Kuwaiti NGOs as well as by private enterprise from the Gulf region, most of which rely on a purely religious curriculum. However, Cambodian Muslim leaders are urging attendance of public Khmer schools and seeking to establish alternatives in the form of Islamic secondary schools with a mixed curriculum, modelled after similar schools in Malaysia. The generally harmonious relations between Chams and Khmers have been affected by the importation of new interpretations of Islam through international Islamic welfare organisations, and the long arm of international terrorism.

by Dr. Ali Ünsal