Thai Muslim patriarch slams terrorists

BANGKOK (AFP): The spiritual leader of Thailand’s Muslims, Sawas Sumalyasak, today expressed his support for an international alliance against terrorism, saying the perpetrators of the outrages of September 11 were “destroyers of religion”. Sawas, the head of the Central Islamic Committee of Thailand, said plans by the United States to launch military action to avenge the attacks on New York and Washington were aimed at terrorists, not Muslims. “If a war breaks out it is not jihad because the action is against terrorists, who are the destroyers of religion and lands,” he told reporters. Thailand has signed up to the international campaign being assembled by the United States, but has ruled out committing troops and is still considering whether to offer its territory as a base for attacks. After a meeting with Foreign Minister Surakiart Sathirathai, Sawas backed the measured response. “Apart from its obligations to the United Nations, Thailand should not be involved in any activities which damage its reputation,” he said. Surakiart said he had reassured Sawas that so far the United States had not sought military cooperation from Thailand, but that if it did receive a request, Sawas would be consulted before a decision was made. A Bangkok University poll released today showed that 68.1% of Thais agreed with Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s attitude to the impending war against terrorism. The survey of 1,319 people found 40.3 percent objected to allowing any country to use Thailand as a base for strikes against Afghanistan, which is harboring the chief suspect in the attacks, Osama bin Laden. Yesterday, one of Phuket’s most senior Muslims, Manot Phanchalard, said, “Muslims in Phuket do not agree with what happened in the USA because these acts killed many innocent people.” K. Manot, who is secretary of the Islamic Committee of Phuket, added, “I want to make a plea to Muslims: whatever you may feel about these events, please keep your feelings to yourself. Don’t show them in public and don’t destroy the good atmosphere in Phuket.” He also made a plea to non-Muslims not to stereotype all Muslims as extremists. “We pray that we will not have a situation where Muslims are stereotyped. Islam is a religion of peace. We have no plans for action in Phuket and we pray to Allah for peace in this world.”

Phuket News
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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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