Shops close in Pattani and Narathiwar as vendors come under threat
Many shops in Pattani and Narathiwat closed on Friday following threats of violence if they chose to operate their business on Friday.
Leaflets were reportedly been distributed in the provinces, citing Muslim teachings not to do business on the day. Local residents were threatened with violence if they did not abide by the warning.
Nimu Makajeh, an Islam expert, said there was no prohibition as such, adding that the Islamic religion teaches that everyday is a good day for working. "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 close their shops to prevent losses from possible violence.
An uneasy fear hovers over many in this province of the deep south, especially following last Friday's car bomb explosion in Saiburi district, 50 km from Pattani town, which killed six police officers and injuring scores of police, government workers and local residents.
Dispoon Changcharoen, owner of Chong Ah Restaurant, said business is usually good on Friday, the day when customers like to relax and dine out, but that he would prefer to stay safe and would thus be closing his doors this week. He added that in any case, it would be difficult to find fresh food for his kitchen.
He called on the authorities to come up with measures to boost the people's diminishing morale.
Muhammad Kasaha, manager of the Pattani branch of Saha Farms, said rumours of violence on Friday have badly affected the Friday sales volume of his products, mainly fresh chicken.
He said the Pattani business community has been living in fear as a result of the rumours, which have flared over the past two weeks.
The sales promotion, normally held by Saha Farms on Fridays, was moved to Thursday this week, he said.
Meanwhile in Narathiwat, Chamnun Muendam, the district chief of Sungai Kolok, surveyed the situation at a fresh market behind the Kenting Hotel.
He said Thai Muslims in the province usually closed their shops on a Friday, as they would go to pray at the mosque at noon. However, after the survey, he admitted that some of the shops were closed today because the owners worried about their safety.
He called on vendors not to believe the leaflets and the rumours, insisting Islamic teachings do not prevent Muslims from working on Fridays.
"The vendors can do business on any Friday. We have security officials in uniform and undercover deployed in the market to provide safety for them," he said.