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Muslim couples in Yala who show affection could be arrested and forced to marry

Caitlin Ashworth

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Muslim unmarried couples in the southern Thai province of Yala could be arrested, and even forced to wed immediately by Islamic authorities, if they are seen being ‘affectionate’ in public. The new rule was set by the Yaha Central Mosque last month, according to Khaosod English.

It’s unclear what types of public displays of affection are considered inappropriate, but apparently even talking together can get a Muslim man and woman arrested. The imam of the Yaha Central Mosque told Khaosod English reporters that if a muslim man and woman are talking, then a third person should be present. Holding hands, kissing or hugging are strictly forbidden.

Under the new rule, unmarried Muslims are prohibited from displaying “actions of a couple” or “adulterous acts.” Those who break the rules can potentially be ordered to get married at the local mosque after a meeting with the parents and local Imam. Violators can also be arrested by police and charged for sexual obscenity which carries a maximum penalty of 5 to 20 years.

So far, no one has been arrested or forced to marry under the draconian local codes. A couple was seen whispering to each other in public, but the Imam says they were berated at the mosque and told “not to do it again”.

The restrictions were intended to keep teenagers out of trouble, a mosque committee member told Khaosod. Apparently, many teenagers in the area have been doing illicit drugs and drinking kratom. The committee member says some of their gatherings have even become violent and there was a shooting at a local gas station.

SOURCE: Khaosod English

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31 Comments

31 Comments

  1. Avatar

    barry

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:04 pm

    Interesting.
    But how does this work, was Yala accorded some kind of judicial autonomy, or are all Thai provinces allowed to set up their own rules to soe extent?

    Very surprising to see that the police can arrest offenders in such cases.
    If there isn’t some kind of autonomy, how does the police comes to enforce laws according to standards which don’t seem to exist in other provinces?

    Reminds me of Banda Aceh in Indonesia, where, after a long insurgency (1976–2005) and the 2004 Tsunami, a special local autonomy was granted to the province including the authority to formally implement Islamic law, which is why Aceh which applies a form of sharia based Islamic criminal law.

    This is quite unique in Indonesia, where secular laws apply and Islamic law is limited to civil law in the areas of marriage, inheritance, and religious endowments – it’s quite controversial, and a result of the long insurgency…

    How does this work in South Thailand? How can people in Yala be “be arrested by police and charged for sexual obscenity” when this doesn’t seem to be the case elsewhere?

    • Avatar

      barry

      Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:29 pm

      Yes but these are illegal activities that are illegal in the whole of Thailand (drugs, drinking nam tom, pulling knives…).

      How can national Thai police enforce acts that are not illegal in the rest of Thailand, (such an unmarried man and woman meeting without another man present, talking, holding hands etc), and actually arrest people for these “offences”?

      Unless Yala has some kind of judicial autonomy, allowing it to choose its own standards for defining “sexual obscenity”, how does this work?

      I would understand it if was vigilantes applying their own standards, but how can the Thai police, and Thai law, be used in such a situation?

      Rigorist Islam, based on the hadith, fobids figurative representations, yet this does not mean the Thai police in Yala will come and arrest anyone selling an immage of the Buddha for obsecenity, right?
      Just wondering how Thai police and laws are used in this case. I’m guessing it’s all talk, and that the imam of the Yaha Central Mosque’s fatwas cannot be morphed into actual legal action under Thai law, but who knows?

      • Avatar

        barry

        Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 6:08 pm

        So you’re saying this sentence doesn’t refer to [the new rule]?

        “Violators can also be arrested by police and charged for sexual obscenity which carries a maximum penalty of 5 to 20 years.”

        ie, an urelated clause, which could have just as well been “Violators can also be arrested by police and charged for manslaughter which carries a maximum penalty of 3 to 15 years.”
        or
        “Violators can also be arrested by police and charged for prostitution which carries a maximum penalty of 1 to 3 years.”

        in other words an unrelated reminder of Thai law, dropped there just to inflame readers?

        That would be pure evil…

  2. Avatar

    barry

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:07 pm

    Interesting.
    But how does this work, was Yala accorded some kind of judicial autonomy, or are all Thai provinces allowed to set up their own rules to some extent?

    Very surprising to see that the police can actually arrest offenders in such cases.
    If there isn’t some kind of autonomy, how does the police come to enforce laws according to standards which don’t seem to exist in other provinces?

    Reminds me of Banda Aceh in Indonesia, where, after a long insurgency (1976–2005) and the 2004 Tsunami, a special local autonomy was granted to the province including the authority to formally implement Islamic law, which is why Aceh now applies a form of sharia based Islamic criminal law (you might have heard of the canings and other horrors)

    But this is quite unique, even in a Muslim-majority country Indonesia, where secular laws apply and Islamic law is limited to civil law in the areas of marriage, inheritance, and religious endowments for instance – it’s quite controversial (Aceh does have Christian minorities for instance), and a result of the long, bloody insurgency…

    How does this work in South Thailand? How can people in Yala be “be arrested by police and charged for sexual obscenity” when this doesn’t seem to be the case, at least not under the same standards, elsewhere?

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 9:54 pm

      See my comment some way below, Barry.

      I was surprised to learn that there is indeed such legislation, dating back a century to the days of British rule in Malaysia, but it’s very specific and this seems way outside its scope.

  3. Avatar

    Ynwaps

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:09 pm

    Southern Thai province eh?

    Is Thailand is enforcing Sharia law or who made the rules?

    There is a difference between displaying “actions of a couple” and “adulterous acts. Of course there is a law that you can’t fuck in public.

    This article is garbage and does nothing but channeling hate towards minorities in the south. Why would you publish this?

    • Avatar

      barry

      Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:31 pm

      Yes, I also have a feeling that it’s something misreprensatation of the actual situation, shilled for sensationalist purposes… Makes no sense, but will fuel hate…

  4. Avatar

    Ynwaps

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:17 pm

    Teenagers doing drugs and forming gangs for whatever reason. The answer of the Mosque is to force some Muslim values upon the youth. Good luck with that lol

    You want to do Kratom and smoke some weed with your friend in the park? We will not only arrest you but force you into marriage hahahaha

  5. Avatar

    Peter

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:32 pm

    It’s not just in Thailand, Sharia courts are operating in the UK and resolve inter Muslim disputes where both parties agree to participate. They have NO LEGAL standing in UK law which takes precedence in all matters. The sharia court judgments cannot be legally enforced by, or override UK law. It seems to work OK and not cause problems within the muslim community who still can seek redress in a UK court.

    • Avatar

      barry

      Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 5:59 pm

      Yes – it’s fairly commom, especially in “common law” systems to allow certain civil law to be regulated by religious law (I think Canada does the same btw), usually restricted to areas such as marriage, inheritance, religious endowments etc…

      But what is weird here is that the article seems to imply that people in Yala can be arrested by the police and criminally charged under the Thai legal system for acts which are not regulated elswhere.

      According to the article, an unmarried man and woman meeting without another man present, talking or holding hands can “be arrested by police and charged for sexual obscenity” .
      This makes no sense, so I do have my doubts as to the veracity of such claims.

      I’m guessing (hope?) it’s some kind of mixup between the Yala police working with religious authorities to crackdown on illegal acts by youth in their community, and the head of the mosque reminding people that, according to his interpretation of religion, such acts are haram for Muslims.

      • Avatar

        Peter

        Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 6:18 pm

        Totally agree with you, no religious court should have precedence over the Nations laws.

      • Avatar

        Issan John

        Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 6:45 pm

        According to the original article in Khaosod the Sharia law even extends to non-Muslims for nothing more than talking to Muslims, with them liable to be put in front of the Imam by the Thai police.

        I have serious, serious doubts about whether this can be true.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 6:52 pm

      “where both parties agree to participate” the local scout master can “resolve disputes”, or a beg-packing teacher, or the parish priest, or any passer-by in the street, or the village idiot.

      • Avatar

        preesy chepuce

        Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 7:51 pm

        Surely you’re too busy, with all these 5 jiao comments you have to write?!

  6. Avatar

    Issan John

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    In non-Covid times this would be headline news across Thai news media – not just practicing Sharia law contrary to Thai law, such as marriage without consent, but with the local Thai police reportedly enforcing it and reporting to the Imam, and (according to Khaosod) even applying it to non-Muslim Thais.

    There’s no way in the world this has been approved, if true, and, again, if true, I think the local police chief would find himself transferred very quickly indeed.

    I can’t help wondering just how much truth there is to this.

    • Avatar

      James R

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 1:11 am

      Issan John

      What has covid got to do with it?

      You will be talking about road deaths next.?

  7. Avatar

    Ian

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 7:40 pm

    God help Thailand it’s bad enough having the clowns in charge but Muslim law as well I so fear for this beautiful country

  8. Avatar

    preesy chepuce

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 7:52 pm

    Do they still sell PoonHub t-shirts in the local market there?

  9. Avatar

    EdwardV

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 10:38 pm

    Good thing these rules don’t apply in Pattaya hahaha. “The restrictions were intended to keep teenagers out of trouble” – So in order to keep kids out of trouble, they intend to force some of them to marry. Where that makes sense I have no idea.

  10. Avatar

    James R

    Tuesday, January 5, 2021 at 11:45 pm

    “….unless a third person is present….”

    So if a boy was talking to two girls meaning a third person is present does that mean he has to marry both the girls?

    What if he was talking to two other boys and he is gay, would he have to marry both boys?

    I know what I am writing is nonsense but the whole idea of this approach between Muslim girls and boys is nonesnes.

  11. Avatar

    Alan

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 12:36 am

    More evidence that Islamic leaders are anti human. An interpretation coming out of twisted minds. Trying to make people live up to impossible standards that are socially unacceptable.

  12. Avatar

    Roger

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 7:58 am

    ARRESTED BY who?

    Thai Police?

    No wonder no more tourists … Not corvid IT IS THAILAND

    The whole country is mad

    Good LUck Thailand

  13. Avatar

    Simple Math

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Yala, Pattani, Narathiwat. Definitely NOT on my holiday destinations list, on par with Afghanistan, Yemen, Iraq, North Korea and suchlike s…..s

  14. Avatar

    Lordie lordie

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 9:13 am

    so the police follow islamic law – as interpreted by a local muslim priest – and override national thai laws…

  15. Avatar

    J West

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 10:05 am

    Of course the dictate by local fanatics is not applicable under Thai law. These are media products of the idle mind who’s course in life is to create trouble in society rather than follow a path of peace. A majority of Muslims would not support the Imams call for the kidnap and subjugation of their daughters any more than they would allow the ancient Arabic practice of beastiality in their community. Even so, Thai should be ever vigilant against the dark forces of fanaticism.

    • Avatar

      Frank Leboeuf

      Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 10:24 am

      Well said, apart from the reference to a so-called “ancient Arabic practice of beastiality”, which is pure nonsense and weakens your post.

      KhaoSod is playing a dangerous game with bogus articles like this, there’s enough hatred and racism in Thailand and elsewhere, no need to fan that fire with made up issues.

      Best focus on real ones, and work on them together, rather than through blind violence and repression.

      • Avatar

        J West

        Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 5:59 pm

        Well Frank, I’m not here to embarrass any follower of Muhammad, but, the traditional social practice of beastiality in the Arab community and ‘ frankly’ throughout the countries of Islamic influence is well documented and explained in Koran and Hadith. The subject is publicly available for study on a variety of scholarly sites and by a variety of Western and Islamic scholars on the subject. I’m not using this forum to judge, but the fact is it exists historically and is widely practiced today.

        • Avatar

          Frank Leboeuf

          Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 8:04 pm

          J West, that is just nonsensical, I know the sources you most likely refer to and frankly, it a little sad that you give them credit as such, especially to infer that this has any influence on Islam as a religion today…

          Again, there are plenty of things to say about Islam or Judeo-Christian religions as they are practiced without having to stoop-down to tabloid truths and sacrecrows, and infering that this has anything to do with anything…

          Makes about as much sense as refer to the protocols of the sages of Sion or other rubbish. Zoophilia exists around the world, and no, it has nothing to do with any religion (more like sociological context if you want to dig into context, ever heard of the donkeys in good ol’Catholic Colombia? Look it up) – it’s ridiculous having to even write a sentence like this to be honest and I’ll leave it at that.

          Again, I’m not here to drag you into an argument such pointless subject as zoophilia in a religion, but want to point out again that we’d be all better off as human beings if we focused on existing issues, without adding imaginary ones.

          As you yourself mentioned, this article is a “media products of the idle mind who’s course in life is to create trouble in society rather than follow a path of peace”. I agree. Same goes for weird, capilotracted exegesis of 7th century texts, in one side or the other.
          Let’s focus on reality, which here definitely indicates that this article is full of beans, to put it softly.

          cheers

        • Avatar

          Chipemberi

          Tuesday, January 12, 2021 at 4:59 pm

          The Welsh and Aussies do it to… Not many of them are Muslims lol

  16. Avatar

    Issan John

    Wednesday, January 6, 2021 at 9:50 pm

    Reading an abstract of the law on this, which I hadn’t been aware of at all, it very specifically applies ONLY in the four southern states, ONLY to “family and inheritance disputes”, and ONLY through Thai appointed “special Islamic law judges, called dato yutitham in Thai, in Provincial Courts”.

    Apart from being in one of the four southern states (Yala) this doesn’t appear to be any of that.

    (for anyone interested in reading the abstract, which also goes into the history, you can find it through the links at Khaosod)

  17. Avatar

    F. Vermolen

    Saturday, January 9, 2021 at 11:00 am

    So a threesome is ok?
    Ridiculous rule.

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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