May 19, 2011

Prayer Request - Southeast Asia

Ranked number 19 among countries with highest number of unreached people groups with 56 unreached people groups. Islam is largest religion. The society faces a troubled and contested future as fault lines appear.

The largest, most dominant and most quickly growing population, are divided among themselves on a number of levels. Pray for changes in these realms:

  • Economic. The ruling party’s affirmative action of the last 40 years has enriched a minority of the population, while increasing the gap between the connected elite and the poorer majority. Such discrimination and favoritism now hobbles economic progress as well as foreign investment.
  • Political. The ruling party faces an opposition coalition comprised of moderates, liberals, Chinese ethnic parties and even Islamists. This indicates the level of disillusion with the government. The next election will demonstrate if the coalition’s recent strong showing is based on large-scale change or is just a protest vote against the party. Appeasing both the minorities and conservative Muslims, while holding the country together, is a difficult balancing act.
  • Religious. Powerful and vocal Islamist agendas are resulting in passing legislations on state and federal levels that effectively introduce sharia law for the people and deepen the divide between Islamic radicals and moderates/liberals. Many rural people practice a folk Islam influenced by pre-Islamic Hindu and Buddhist elements as well as animist practices; they will inevitably be pushed into adopting a “purer” version of Islam.

Minority groups feel frustrated with discrimination and corruption as well as with changes to civil and religious liberties. Some seek legal and political solutions, but others plan for a future outside the country – a potentially tragic loss of diversity and economic clout for a land that has long prided itself on both.

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