A radical Thai Buddhist monk known for his anti-Muslim rhetoric has been forcefully disrobed by the authorities after a brief detention.
On 20 September 2017,the Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand reported on its Facebook page that security officers on 19 September detained Venerable Aphichat Promjan at a temple in southern Songkhla Province and reportedly took him to the Crime Suppression Division of the Royal Thai Police in Bangkok for interrogation.
The next day, he was brought to Benjamabophit Temple in Bangkok at 6:30 pm and was forced to disrobe due to his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
The Cross Cultural Foundation (CrCF) and other civil society organisations from the predominantly Muslim Deep South issued a statement on 19 September, calling for the authorities to release Aphichat, pointing out that such arbitrary arrest could exacerbate the situation.
In their statement, the groups say “Even though the CrCF does not agree with the act of a religious person or a religious leader belonging to whatsoever religions who tends to harbour aggressive views which may harbour conflicts and a lack of mutual trust among religious persons, but the act of the authorities and the exercise of power toward a religious person should be carried out with sensitivity,”.
Aphichat has been active in a movement to make Buddhism the state religion of Thailand, campaigning through groups such as the Committee to Promote Buddhism as a State Religion.
He made headlines after he proposed on his Facebook account that the government burn a mosque for each Buddhist monk killed in the restive Deep South.
Aphichat Promjan (centre) after he was forced to disrobe (Photo from Buddhism Protection Centre of Thailand’s Facebook page)