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Phuket's large Muslim community is generally peace-loving

Muslim Cemetery Row Sparks Phuket Street Protest

Monday, October 5, 2009
ABOUT 500 protesters blocked Phuket's main airport road outside Thalang Police Station yesterday when an imam was arrested in a mix-up over a Muslim cemetery.

Both sides of the four-lane highway, Phuket's most important artery, came to a standstill when demonstrators parked vehicles-side-on to traffic about 12.30pm.

Imam Bamrung Sampaorat, the head of Phuket's Muslim community, told Phuketwan today that some of the demonstrators were carrying guns.

One Forest Department worker was injured and had to be treated at Vachira Hospital for bruises sustained in an altercation with angry protesters.

The local Muslim community was literally up in arms over the arrest of one of their religious leaders, Imam Sukhum Waree, and only dispersed after 90 minutes when Imam Bamrung interceded.

Imam Bamrung became involved at the request of the Governor, Wichai Praisa-nob, who called him from Bangkok.

The dispute arose over a proposed Muslim cemetery on 25 rai of land in Bang Kanun park, Imam Bamrung told Phuketwan.

''It was all a big mistake,'' he said. ''The land was promised by the previous head of the Forest Department on Phuket.

''Then before the paperwork was finalised, he was transferred. It had been agreed that the local Muslims could begin work on creating the cemetery.

''But the new head of the Forest Department, who arrived last week, was not brought up to date on this part of the arrangement.

''So he took Imam Sukhum to the police station. As you can imagine, it's quite unusual to have an imam arrested.

''People were quite angry. And because it was a Sunday, everyone was at home and joined the protest when they heard.''

The cemetery is in Moo 8, Prusomparn Village, Thepkasattri Sub-District. It is understood that the new Forest Department head now understands the situation and has approved the plan.

Last week Phuketwan reported the difficulties encountered when the administrative ''monsoon'' arrives at this time of the year and many of the heads of government departments find themselves moved to other provinces.
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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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Now did anyone check to see if those carrying guns had a license to do so? Would have been a good opportunity!

Posted by VFaye on October 5, 2009 12:11

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why would a new government man on the job in Phuket be in such a hurry to clear the 25 rai of land?

Editor: He thought he'd discovered a breach of the law.

Posted by allen on October 5, 2009 15:55

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When will this mob rule stop! how does this look to the outside world . People on Phuket have to respect the law.

Editor: I agree. But in this case, law-abiding Muslims felt a justifiable sense of outrage when they saw an imam arrested for no good reason. They thought the law had disrespected them.

Posted by Peter J notley on October 5, 2009 16:31

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So judging by the Editors comments here he sees no problem with lawless armed mobs on the streets, using tourists as tools in their shabby little intimidation campaign.

There are NO excuses that can absolve this behavior.

NONE.

Get that?

Editor: Get what? Get your strikingily myopic attitude? I don't condone the actions of this particular group. But I do understand the reason why they were angry. What have you ever done to support the rule of law in Thailand, Sandman, apart from making wiseass cracks on websites? Perhaps if you got out there and talked to a few more people who are different to you, minorities who have lived here for centuries, you might have a deeper breadth of understanding. Thailand is not all about making life smooth for tourists, but creating a fair and equitable society. Then it will work for the tourists as well. Any other comments?

Posted by Sandman on October 5, 2009 20:22

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I as well cannot believe the editor condoning this. You state that "law-abiding" people feel outraged, yet your own article mentions that they were carrying weapons (isn't that breaking the law?) and also the mob demonstration shutting a road is not legal. So all these people are not law-abiding, but actually are a law-disregarding mob.
I agree with the other comments that Phuket and Thailand in general needs to get rid of this mentality that whenever there is a problem they can shut down roads, airports or anything else and they will get their way. Justice, in all cases, needs to be delivered, including punishment for mobs closing down roads, airports or anything else. Maybe then Thailand could develop into a more equitable and developed country.

Posted by Jimmy on October 5, 2009 21:33

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The law is the law Mr Editor . roads cannot just be closed on a wim of a group of people. Have you not noticed how the island is almost lawless nowadays.
Please think about this, tuk tuks, tailors, jet skis, nobody respects anything any more on this island.

Editor: I don't agree with mob justice, but I do have some sympathy with the mob in this case. If a dispute involves religion, then it should be administered with tact. Arresting an imam, apparently unjustly, is not especially tactful. The law has to be enforced wisely, not whimsically. There is no connection between this case and jet-skis, etc. And respect has to be earned.

Posted by Peter J Notley on October 5, 2009 21:54

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A country has laws. If they are broken then there is a Judge and a Jury. Not tourists and other civilians to use for extortion purposes. EXTORTION is illegal. MOBBING should also be illegal if we want to keep ANY sense of security here in Phuket or anywhere else in the world that claims to be civilised.

Editor: If the law had been administered wisely in this case, there would have been no mob. The cause of the problem was a wrongful arrest. That's not upholding the law. That's a mistake.

Posted by This happened to me too on October 6, 2009 10:05

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Sometimes it is a good idea to arrest an imam. Nobody is sacrosanct.

But I have to concede, that sometimes you need a mob here in Thailand, to get things done more righteous. I remember the story of a mob in front of a police station, because two police men let a fugitive drown, who jumped in a lake while on the run with the police men in hot pursuit. Even bystanders were not allowed (so the claim) to rescue the guy. After the mob showed, the police superintendent transferred the men to another post and ordered an inquiry... at least. So sometimes a mob in Thailand is an empowerment against the powerful, who sometimes seam to f**** the law.

But sometimes it is also the tool to receive a bone not really earned.

Mmh. The old head "did not tell", but had to leave and the new head "did not now". "Paperwork" was not finished, but construction at a site in a park was already running. Sounds funny. Sounds like a real story to tell. Sounds like... well, like you heard it some more times before.

If it looks like a duck. I mean. Without the facts...

Posted by Lena on October 6, 2009 10:58

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Phuket Wan you are ***hole through and through Enough of this BS T*** ass- kissing blog, has sunk to a Thai ***** level

PW posts bllshi t- any more " marina bans" ?

Editor: Thanks, Thai Weary. Shouldn't you stick with the sites where bigotry is encouraged and ignorance is required for membership?

Posted by Thai Weary on October 6, 2009 12:05

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But in this case, law-abiding Muslims felt a justifiable sense of outrage when they saw an imam arrested for no good reason. They thought the law had disrespected them.

The courts decide if a person is arrested for good reason. This is phuket's dirty little secret; phuket is an islamic state with a secular face. the real power on this island is the islamic army. it is waiting its time to make a formal announcement. editor here is just in denial.

Editor: It's clear you have an extremely vivid imagination.

Posted by sammy on October 7, 2009 10:31

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But you cannot encourage mobbing anytime when someone or some group feels they are being treated unjust by the police. There are other ways to deal with it. Whether they are right or wrong, Mobbing cannot be justified in a civilized country.

Editor: Who is encouraging mobbing? I agreed at the start of this thread with a reader who said: 'When will this mob rule stop!' Others see the world entirely in black and white when there are always shades of grey. Now, in the comments I cannot publish, the racists are running riot. That's the truly dangerous mob.

Posted by This happened to me too on October 7, 2009 11:01

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If you have a problem, or if you have injustice done to you, and you take the law into your own hands at the expense of others, then the injustice done to you is Void. My point is you can't shut down the roads at the expense of Innocent tourist who have nothing to do with them or their problems ... The law is the law. Everyone at that protest who shut down the road should go to jail. End of story.
Editor: Because the officials agreed with you that ''the law is the law,'' innocent people were arrested and other innocent people were inconvenienced. A little tact and wisdom at the very beginning would have prevented the law from becoming an ass, and kept the road open. Can you imagine what kind of catastrophe would have resulted from an attempt to arrest 500 people? Are you mad?

Posted by Steve G on October 7, 2009 12:24

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Now, in the comments I cannot publish, the racists are running riot.

What "race" is Islam, again?

Editor: You haven't read the comments.

Posted by sammy on October 7, 2009 13:16

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to Steve G: well, the tourists who missed their flights will remember, so the 500 people did hurt themselves also a little bit. But going to prison for closing a street in protest sounds more like Burma or North Korea. Thankfully not Thailand. I remember some farmers in France doing real mean stuff, blocking my highway and that was not a mob but a demonstration. Ok, was a mob. But they were white as french can be.

Posted by Lena on October 7, 2009 16:21

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.I know you wont print this, but i think you get my point.

Editor: What precede that sentence was a snapshot of the latest destruction in southern Thailand, followed by some paranoid claims about Muslims in general. Steve, To draw any connection between the insurrection in southern Thailand and a street blockade in Phuket shows a deep lack of understanding of the difference between here and there. Phuket's Muslim community has never been subjected to the kind of treatment that triggered the killings in the south. They have lived contentedly with other Thais, who happen to be Buddhist, for centuries. Stop imagining there's some kind of conspiracy. Get out and meet some real people. There's a big, tolerant world out there.

Posted by Steve G on October 8, 2009 09:03

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Steve O

Don't waste your time trying to reason with this chump. (Edited section . . . .)

Editor: Thanks, Lek. Happy to be a chump, given your obnoxious view of the world. Always happy to reason, but not so keen on racism and intolerance. Ever thought of treating people as individuals, regardless of religion, race or gender? No? Ah well . . . .

Posted by lek on October 17, 2009 21:24

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But mobs are not individual people and have a mentality specific to, well, a mob.

Editor: Yes. I said I had some sympathy for this particular mob because of the unusual circumstances, that's all. I agreed at the very beginning with those who said it was a mob, and that what they did was wrong. But there are people who have misread the thread all along . . . because it suits their viewpoint. I don't think this mob deserves to be lynched.

Posted by Expat Coroner on October 18, 2009 09:06


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