PHNOM PENH (Khmer Times) – Roughly half a million of Islamists in Cambodia, 80 percent of whom are Cham Muslims, will complete their traditional observation of this year’s one-month Ramadan on Friday evening.
During Ramadan Islamic followers are obligated to fast during the day; abstain and bad deeds; and make generous contributions as necessary.
“It is the obligation all followers have to fulfill every year,” said Mosaah Nach, an Islam educator. He explained, “First, they [Muslims] learn to be patient. They can abstain from good things like food, so why not bad things. Second, Ramadan makes them value what they have. Third, it makes them understand what it is like for impoverished people having nothing to eat. So they will become generous and help others. Last, it helps strengthen the belief of Islam.”
He added that such freedom is made possible only with the government’s policy of tolerance of all religions.
“The government has provided full freedom of religion for any religious followers without coercion as long as it does not affect others. Islam does not affect others because it encourages good deeds and they [Muslims] help others in their community.”
Tens of thousands of Cham Muslims were killed and tortured under the Khmer Rouge. Back then, they were restricted from practicing their religion and they have since been a reliable constituency of the CPP.
Prime Minister Hun Sen said at June 26 Ramadan Iftar Dinner 2015 on Diamond Island, “What is remarkable is that there is no religion clash in Cambodia. After January 7, 1979, Cambodia has seen reemergence of the nation and religions like Islam, Christian as well as Buddhism.”