A senior Buddhist monk in Thailand sparked uproar over his visit to an Islamic education centre in the south. The visit to the centre in Narathiwat province in Thailand’s south came with heavy criticism on the second day of the House debate against the Prayut government yesterday morning.
According to Thai PBS World, army officials defended the visit by saying it was designed to help educate young Muslims on the history of the Thai national flag and patriotism.
The visit came last Sunday as a group of unarmed soldiers accompanied the abbot of a local Buddhist temple on his visit to the Islamic school for elementary students. The school, known as “tadika,” is located in the compound of a mosque in Duku village in Bacho District of Narathiwat province.
According to Berna News, Phra Samujirapon, the abbot of Urai Rattanaram Temple, discussed issues of patriotism and the history of the country’s national flag. He also spoke of the importance of religious and cultural pluralism. The abbot and soldiers handed out sports equipment to the school during the visit.
Kuheng Yawohasan, a Narathiwat MP of the Prachachart Party says the incident has offended the local Muslim community which sees the visit as interfering with Islamic teaching. He said it also demonstrated the current government’s lack of sincerity in solving the conflict in the south.
Kuheng says the incident was insulting and it “flies in the face of Thai authorities who claim that they respect cultural and religious differences.”
The Duku Muslim Youth Council in Narathiwat also criticised the visit, demanding that authorities show responsibility for the incident.
“We call on the people to use all possible media platforms to demonstrate their objection to what is tantamount to a violation of human and community rights.”
Berna News contacted the commander of the Fourth Army Region, Santi Sakuntanark, who strongly defended the visit.
“We are living in a pluralistic society. I don’t see any problem. I don’t think it should be an issue.”
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