by Authors: Dr. Muhammad Yamin Ismail
Islam is the religion of a majority of the Cham (also called Khmer Islam) and Malay minorities in Cambodia. According to Po Dharma, there were 150,000 to 200,000 Muslims in Cambodia as late as 1975. Persecution under the Khmer Rouge eroded their numbers, and by 2009, the Pew Research Center estimated that 1.6% of the population, or 300,000 people were Muslims. In the mean time Khmers represent the largest ethnicity in a population of about 14 million.
The Cham people are concentrated at the Kampong Cham Province and Kampong Chnang province in Cambodia. They follow Islam and uphold its pillars. The Cham Muslim community in Cambodia runs religious schools and headed by a Mufti.
Today, Muslims are able to practice their religion normally and out in the open. This commenced in the People Republic of Kampuchea era where Islam was given the same freedom as that of Buddhism, the official religion practiced by the majority of Cambodians. During Khmer Rouge, many of the mosques and schools building were destroyed and they need a financial aid to rebuild those buildings.