Wailing to Heaven

Reaching for the Skies

Bangkok Post, October 20, 2001

Muslims push for boycott of goods from US and its allies
Bin Laden T-shirts sold to raise funds

Thai Muslims are pushing for a boycott of all goods and services from the United States and its allies involved in the US-led strikes on Afghanistan. They are also raising relief funds for Afghan victims of the attacks.

More than 1,000 Thai Muslims in the North yesterday gathered at Chang Khlan mosque in Muang district before marching along several routes in Chiang Mai's downtown to publicise messages against the US-led airstrikes against Afghanistan. The demonstrators vowed to boycott more than 120 items of goods from the US and its allies including Israel, as well as petrol stations of Western companies. Buying such products and services would be tantamount to supporting the US war efforts, they said.

The marchers later gathered at the US and British consulates to call for an end to the bombing of Afghanistan. At the US consulate which was sealed off by more than 100 policemen, the demonstrators demanded the US stop killing "innocent children, women and old people" in Afghanistan. They also condemned the US for having forced other countries to back its attacks on Afghanistan and for its move to intervene in Afghan politics.

A Muslim protester shouts anti-US slogans during a rally outside the US consulate in Chiang Mai yesterday.

Their protest letter was received by Staporn Mai-iam, the US consulate security chief, who said it would be forwarded to the US president via the US embassy in Bangkok.

Yesterday, a group of 10 people gathered in front of the US embassy to submit a letter calling for world peace which was addressed to US President George W Bush. They also prayed for the victims of the Sept 11 terrorist attacks in the US as well as for those killed in the US-led airstrikes on Afghanistan.

Another demonstration also took place in the South yesterday. Protesters in Hat Yai, Songkhla, burned the American flag and an effigy of President Bush.

T-shirts showing the face of Osama bin Laden, prime suspect in the Sept 11 attacks, were also sold at 190 baht apiece to raise funds for Afghan war victims.

The protesters later joined a public discussion organised in a mosque by Muslim organisations. The meeting drew about 300 people.

Charan Maluleem, a political science lecturer from Thammasat University, told the meeting Washington did not have enough evidence to retaliate against Afghanistan militarily. The strikes stemmed from America's old hatred of Muslims, he charged.

The meeting confirmed the move by Thai Muslims to boycott US and British products and to raise relief funds for Afghan war victims.

The Muslim Youth Association of Thailand was reported to have raised more than 300,000 baht so far through its fund-raising campaigns which included sales of the bin Laden T-shirts.

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