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PDRC leader says mosque closure a 'misunderstanding'

A group of supporters of the anti-government People's Democratic Reform Committee (PDRC) yesterday tried to assure an imam that they had no intention of closing his mosque in Trang.

"They got close to the mosque to ask a school in the same compound to suspend their classes in line with the PDRC movement on January 20," Satit Wongnongtaey, a PDRC leader and a former Trang MP, said from a stage in Bangkok.

He dismissed reports that some PDRC supporters tried to close Su So Mosque or disrupt its rituals.

"That's a misunderstanding," he said.

According to the Trang Islamic Committee, the school in the mosque's compound has about 500 students.

Palian district chief Sathaporn Pathumthong said the school had agreed to suspend classes on Tuesday in response to a request from PDRC supporters.

The PDRC called for a nationwide work stoppage as a sign of civil disobedience to heap pressure on the current government to put in place reform before the election.

Sathaporn said he had talked to the imam as well as the manager and executives at the school.

"It's clear the PDRC supporters did not intend to disrupt the mosque's religious rituals," he said. He also dismissed reports, which have been shared widely on the Internet since Wednesday, that demonstrators surrounded the mosque.

'Obstructing prayers'

Sunisa Lertpakawat, deputy spokeswoman for the caretaker government, accused demonstrators of obstructing prayers at the mosque and demanded an apology from PDRC secretary-general Suthep Thaugsuban and Democrat Party leader Abhisit Vejjajiva.

Suthep is a former senior member of the Democrat Party.

Satit yesterday insisted that the PDRC demonstrators in Trang had already offered an apology and the imam at Su So Mosque did not hold any grudges.

Satit said he was looking into the possibility of videotaping an interview with the imam, so that his response could be shown to the public.


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