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Vendors close shops in southern Thailand fearing 'punishment'

Soldiers tell stallowners at Pimonchai Market in Yala district to be confident about their safety as many shops in Pattani and Narathiwat closed down yesterday after they received leaflets threatening them with punishment.

Publication Date : 29-09-2012


Many shops in Pattani and Narathiwat in southern Thailand had to close yesterday after they received leaflets threatening shopowners with punishment if they did not follow Muslim regulations about Friday being a day of rest.

Nimu Makajeh, an Islam expert, said there was no prohibition as such because according to the religion, everyday is good for work.

"That warning is wrong. There is no such prohibition in our teachings," he said.

Vendors and shopowners in Pattani's downtown Thepwiwat fresh market, however, said they would shut down to avoid losses from attacks.

Residents in this province have been uneasy since last Friday's car bomb explosion in Sai Buri district, which killed six police officers and injured scores others.

Dispoon Changcharoen, owner of Chong Ah Restaurant, said business was usually good on Fridays because people liked to relax and dine out, but he preferred to stay safe and would hence be closing his restaurant this week. In any case, he said, it would be difficult to find fresh supplies.

He also called on the authorities to launch morale-boosting measures.

Muhammad Kasaha, manager of the Pattani branch of Saha Farms, said rumours of violence badly affected the sales of his products, mainly fresh chicken. He said the Pattani business community has been living in fear after rumours of imminent violence started circulating over the past two weeks.

Saha Farms' weekly promotion, which is normally held on Fridays, was moved to Thursday this week, he said.

Meanwhile in Narathiwat, Sungai Kolok district chief Chamnun Muendam, said Thai-Muslims usually closed their shops on Fridays to go pray at the mosque. However, after surveying the situation at a fresh market behind the Kenting Hotel, he said that many shopowners had shut down because they were worried about their safety.

He also called on vendors to not be intimidated by the leaflets and rumours, saying that Islamic teachings did not prevent Muslims from working on Fridays.

"Vendors can do business on any day. We have security officials in uniform and undercover policemen deployed in the market to provide safety," he said.


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