The gangs of the deep South have revived an old and intimidating tactic in recent weeks. Their propagandists and front men have told businesses in the region that Islam forbids work on the Friday day of prayer. Anyone performing commerce on Friday risks violence, the gangs have threatened. Two Fridays ago, a bomb at a Yala gold shop apparently backed up the threats with force.
This is a sad state of affairs, that rapidly became worse. Authorities confirmed from the country's top Islamic authority that there is no such injunction in Islam. The nation's top Muslim went even further, saying, "Threatening people to stop working on a Friday is a violation of their rights." But the threats and intimidation have succeeded in closing markets and shops across the three-province area of the deep South. Even those who defied last Friday found they had almost no customers.
It is actually encouraging that authorities went to the top for advice. There is now no room for dispute about this issue. The Chula Ratchamontri Aziz Pitakkumpol, himself a southerner, said authoritatively and publicly that the Koran has no prohibition on doing business on Friday. That caps all possible disputes on the subject.