Thai PM wants 'hijab' issue handled with care

Thai PM wants 'hijab' issue handled with care

The issue came into the spotlight after the Wat Nong Chok school in Bangkok's Nong Chok district rejected a request from 17 female Muslim students for permission to wear a headscarf to school.

The school's director Prapon Leesin said the Office of the Basic Education Commission (Obec) had resolved last month not to allow the wearing of headscarves in schools that are situated inside Buddhist temples and that his school had clear rules on uniforms.

He added that the students had 30 days to appeal against the decision, but they had not done so and that there was no religious dispute over the issue.

However, according to Sod Daengied, director-general of the Religion Department, there are no regulations obliging Buddhist |temples to prohibit people from other religions, regardless of what they |are wearing, from entering their facilities.

Meanwhile, Prayut said he had instructed state schools in the deep South, where the vast majority of the population is Muslim, to handle the issue with care.

"We want to see the South become the centre for Islamic culture of Thailand where people could express their identity freely," he said, though he added that the issue of Islamic attire should also be considered from the security aspect.

"Sometime insurgents wear headscarves to disguise themselves, which creates problems for officials. So please understand this problem."

Prayut added that he would have a consultation session with the Education Ministry and the Internal Security Operations Command to find a way to synchronise security and the expression of identity.

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