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Officials work hard to prove working on Fridays not against Islam

Authorities in three provinces in the deep South worked really hard yesterday to explain to local people that working on Fridays did not go against Islamic teachings and that they should not be afraid of insurgents' threats.

A few weeks ago, insurgents distributed leaflets claiming that working on Friday went against Islamic teachings, and even though Islamic spiritual leader Chula Ratchamontri said this was untrue, local businesses chose to keep their shutters closed.

In Yala, rangers visited six villages in Raman district and distributed statements from Chula Ratchamontri saying that working on Friday did not go against the Muslim faith.

However, ranger commander Colonel Komkrit Rattanachaya said people were still concerned about their safety and preferred to stay home on Fridays.

He added that his team had been tasked to explain the issue to people and that they had visited residents several times already.

"We hope villagers will understand that on Fridays they can go to the mosque for prayers in the morning and work after that. I think they will understand this and the situation will return to normal soon," he said. Security officials, both in uniform and undercover, had been deployed to ensure safety.

Pattani's Deputy Governor Seree Srihatrai led a team of officials to a market in Muang district to speak to people and help them understand the situation. They also distributed leaflets promising safety for people who did business on Fridays.

However, fruit vendor Rattanawadi Denudom said she preferred it if the day was declared a weekly holiday, adding that even though the authorities keep promising to protect people, she wanted to see their safety measures first.

Pattani Governor Pramuk Lamoon added that more shops have started opening on Fridays, compared to the week after the leaflets were distributed.

"On the first Friday after the leaflets were distributed last month, only a few shops opened. However, last Friday some 50 shops had resumed business," he said.

It is expected that today more shops will open because they have a better understanding about the matter, he said. He was speaking after he and his team of officials talked to shoppers at markets in Muang district and explained safety measures to them.

In Narathiwat, Governor Apinun Suetanuwong chaired a meeting with representatives of restaurants and shops in the province, who have agreed to open their shops after the authorities agreed to deploy more police officers and soldiers in markets and other business areas.


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