Traders in deep south still fearful of opening for business
Shops in marketplaces in Pattani, Narathiwat, Yala provinces were quiet again today, with merchants and shoppers still fearful of the anonymous threats that opening for business on a Friday would make market vendors or business operators potential targets of insurgent violence.
Leaflets were distributed in deep southern provinces threatening people of violent action if they worked on Fridays because it was prohibited by the Islamic faith.
Many shops in and around busy marketplaces were closed on Friday last week and again today. Most traders in the three southernmost provinces said they would rather be safe than take a chance of being targetted by violence.
There was light trading in Narathiwat municipal market, with most of the shops shuttered and the majority of vendors in the fresh markets closed for safety reasons. More shops were closed than last Friday even though a greater number of security personnel were deployed to protect the public at markets.
The same atmosphere was seen at the Yala municipal market. However, leaflets were distributed to the public quoting Thailand's official Muslim spiritual leader the Chula Ratchamontri to assure business and buyers alike that working on Friday was not against Islamic practice.
Yala governor Dechrat Simsiri led government employees to give moral support to vendors and shoppers at the market.
Boonsom Thongsriprai, who heads the Federation of Southern Border Province Teachers, said the threat also covers teachers, who have been told not to teach on Friday. He urged the authorities for more action to assure the safety of the public and not to let the public continue to live in fear like this.
On Thursday, Chula Ratchamontri Aziz Pitakkumpol reiterated that Islamic teachings do not prohibit Muslims from working on Fridays and anybody stopping people from working on the day was violating their basic rights.
Working on Fridays was go against Islamic teachings and that Allah wanted Muslims to work so they did not become a burden on others, Aziz said.