Monday, May 4, 2009

Muslim pupils from Krong Koh Kong in Cambodia.

Krong Koh Kong is a border town located 7 km from Thailand. The area was called "wild west" in Cambodia for decades. The new bridge and completed Highway NH84 to Sihanoukville in 2008 had opened new era in small town. The chance of better life appeared for local residents.

During my walk outside KKK town I met many Muslims.

The Cham Muslims called Khmer Islam in Cambodia own some mosques and Quran schools. They describe themselfes as Sunnis of the Shafi'i school.

The Cham in Cambodia are closely related with Cham of coastal Vietnam. According old tales the first official Muslim envoy to Vietnam and Tang Dynasty in China was sent by the third Caliph in 650. Chinese records proved the theory of the Islam's spread among Cham in the late 10th centuries. After collapse of the Champa Kingdom in 15th century many Muslims moved to Cambodia and Malacca Sultanate.

Champa's exodus lasted all 19th century ( their big community lives in Bangkok ) until Khmer Rouge period. There are some 600,000 Cham Muslims in Cambodia today.

Some Cham people believe in the power of magic and supernatural powers.

Krong Koh Kong's Muslims keep low profile.

They have to deal with harsh life's circumstances in Cambodia.

Their houses resembled 19th century cottages on a rubber trees plantation.

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