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Vendors in deep South still fearful of doing business on Fridays

Soldiers provide security at a quiet market in Pattani yesterday after leaflets were widely distributed in the southernmost provinces threatening people with violence if they worked on Fridays.

Soldiers provide security at a quiet market in Pattani yesterday after leaflets were widely distributed in the southernmost provinces threatening people with violence if they worked on Fridays.

Markets in Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala were quiet again yesterday with merchants and shoppers preferring to stay in for fear that trading on a Friday would make them potential targets of violence.

A few weeks ago, leaflets were widely distributed in the deep South threatening people with violent action if they worked on Fridays because it is reportedly a day of rest according to the Islamic faith.

Many shops were closed yesterday and last Friday, with most shopkeepers saying that they would rather be safe than become targets.

Very few shops were open at the municipal markets in Narathiwat and Yala despite the presence of security personnel and the distribution of leaflets quoting Muslim spiritual leader Chula Ratchamontri Aziz Pitakkumpol assuring businesses that working on Fridays was not against Islamic practice.

Yala Governor Dechrat Simsiri also led a team of civil servants to reassure vendors.

Boonsom Thongsriprai, who heads the Federation of Southern Border Province Teachers, said the threat also covered teachers, who have been told not to teach on Friday. He called on the authorities to take stronger action to ensure the safety of the public, saying people could not continue living in fear like this.

On Thursday, the spiritual leader reiterated that Islamic teachings did not prohibit Muslims from working on Fridays and anybody stopping people from working on the day was violating their basic rights. He said that not working went against Islamic teachings because Allah did not want Muslims to become a burden on others, Aziz said.




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