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Laurens de Rooij

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The country of Indonesia is not only the world largest Muslim country but also has a diverse culture and history. This paper will try to answer the question of how the historical context and political environment have contributed to shaping the relationship between Islam and (secular) democracy in Indonesia today. By examining remnants of the country’s colonial past, independence from the Dutch in the late 40’s, through the authoritarian regime of Sukarno and The “New Order Administration” and how these periods of the country’s existence have helped shape the socio-religious environment of contemporary Indonesia. By looking at how the socio-religious context interacted with political context of the country during its modernizing transformation after the colonial period, I suggest that the Islam found in Indonesia, exists in a variety of ways but cannot be looked at without taking the historical context into consideration. As a consequence of large diversity among Indonesians both ethnically and religiously, Islam was never a united political force as in other countries. But how does the contemporary political environment affect religious identity construction for contemporary Indonesians? With the socio-religious climate in Indonesia one of dynamism, active participation and as it contains the largest Muslim populous in the world as well as one of the largest growing economies, Indonesia and the relationship between Islam and democracy is of increasing global importance.

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Laurens de Rooij

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The Country of Malaysia is not only diverse in culture and during its history, but also contains a plurality of active religious traditions. This unique lifestyle has affected modernizing transformations during the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. The influence of the minority religions on economic policy is a notable example. The socio-religious climate of Malaysia and its various ethnic groups have all contributed to economic and in turn political developments within the nation. This paper will explore the links of how the pluralist environment of the country has directly affected and continues to shape the social, economic, political discourse of the country. Subtle elements such as constitutional preference over one religion and the various economic policies show that the religious pluralism of Malaysia and globalising factors have had wide ranging influences on the country and its people. As such this paper will argue that in the development of Malaysia as a nation its many religious traditions have had a role to play. With arguably the minority religions being a more dominant factor that the majority Muslim community. These religions have interacted and influenced each other in developing Malaysian identity-politics and economic policy for its contemporary citizens.

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Laurens de Rooij

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The king of Thailand is a constitutional monarch and having reigned since 1946, is the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. The king of Thailand is not only the Head of State and of the Armed Forces he is also the Upholder of the Buddhist religion. As a result he is seen as a unifying figure among its people in the political arena but increasingly it seems that a religious cult has developed around the figure of the king. He is a revered man and holds considerable power and influence among the people. Historically the figure of the Thai monarch has been important in keeping the country politically stable and out of a number of conflicts, with the preference of the Thai monarchy on peace and stability rather than conflict. This paper will examine how the country’s religious background set in Theravada Buddhism affects how the figure of the monarch is constructed and increasingly shows similarities with the role of a spiritual leader not only a political one. I will explore the question of how the Buddhist definition of Kingship affects the mythical narrative surrounding the monarch in Thailand. Setting the context from which I shall approach the issue of in what way the Thai people publicly revere their King in not only secular terms but increasingly religious terms. With modernizing transformations taking place in contemporary Thailand it is noticeable though that the country’s religious background is not lost in the shuffle. Theravada Buddhism is still increasingly important in the country’s social, economic and religious identity. But increasingly the figure of the Monarch takes an all-encompassing figure to exemplify the socio-religious values that Thai’s should aspire to.

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Laurens de Rooij

Increasingly, debates are dealing with the integration and the compatibility of Islam with British values and society. Media narratives are used to conceptualise Islam in Britain. The existing protocols of religion, media, and public space characterise that environment, as well as dictating the participation of members in that space. This paper discusses how media constructions of Islam are linked to civil religion. It does so by discussing: (1) how the media’s protocols of public discourse affect the framing of religious identities; (2) how the media defines the aesthetic parameters of religious expression; (3) how the conceptualisation(s) of civil religion are used to regulate Islam in Britain. This study utilises a qualitative content analysis of media frames. Findings suggest that the aesthetic elements (media representations of Islam and Muslims) regulate Islam and Muslims through the codes and conventions (civil religion) of British society.