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Crackdown Ordered On Religious Tattoos In Phuket

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Crackdown ordered on religious tattoos in Phuket

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OH MY BUDDHA! Religious tattoos have a long tradition in Thailand,

but Phuket authorities fear their growing popularity among foreign

tourists is little more than a fashion trend.

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An image of the Hindu deity Ganesh, as displayed by one satisfied

foreign customer at a Phuket tattoo shop.

PHUKET: -- The Culture Ministry has attacked the growing trend for tourists in Phuket and other parts of Thailand to have religious images tattooed on their bodies.

It has ordered provincial governors across the country, including Phuket, to crack down on such tattoos, igniting a debate on the human rights implications of forbidding the practice.

Culture Minister Niphit Intharasombat told told reporters Monday that Phuket's Culture Office had uncovered an “alarming trend": tourists have images such as those of the Buddha, Ganesh and Jesus Christ tattooed on their arms, legs and ankles.

It is culturally inappropriate and erodes respect for religion, Mr Niphit said.

But the ministry is likely to face an uphill battle to end the practice. The service is highly popular and tattooists can charge extra for such work, with some jobs costing upwards of 20,000 baht.

Mr Niphit downplayed the likelihood that the tattoos could be a genuine expression of spiritual belief.

The tattoos were just part of a fashion trend among tourists, who most likely did not believe in the religion and were ignorant of the true significance of the image.

As a result, Mr Niphit said the ministry's Subcommittee on Safe and Creative Media had decided to order the governors of all Thai provinces to ban foreigners from getting tattoos of religious images of any faith.

Governors would be asked to convene meetings of those involved in the industry to ask for their cooperation, he said.

“At the meeting, we noted that these tattoos were all over the country, in particular in tourist destinations such as Khao San Road, Tawanna and Chatuchak Market in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket,” he said.

“We have to help prevent images that are respected in various religions from being tattooed onto the body.”

People with visible religious tattoos who engaged in “bad behavior” such as “sitting drinking alcohol and arguing” would damage the faiths through association, Mr Niphit said.

Acknowledging that Thai law did not prevent people from getting such tattoos, he said the ministry needed to coordinate with relevant agencies to draft measures to prevent the practice.

He would also propose to the National Culture Committee that a law be drafted that forbade the use of religious symbols for commercial purposes. The law, if passed, would affect both those who offered and used such services.

Ladda Tangsupachai, director of the ministry's Cultural Surveillance Center, warned that if “people who showed their bodies for a living” such as “prostitutes” and “go-go dancers” had such tattoos, it would erode respect for religion.

But Human Rights Commissioner Wasan Panich pointed out that while Thai law prevented people from violating the Thai flag and other national icons, there were no such laws concerning religious symbols.

Any law banning the use of such images for commercial purposes must not violate people's rights, because the term “commercial” had a broad meaning, he said.

“If people have Buddha images tattooed on their body, on their arms or chest for example, you can't forbid that because it's not insulting,” he said.

“Anyone can get these tattoos because it's their right to do that to their own body.”

But, he added, if people had such images tattooed to their ankles or “inappropriate organs”, it could be seen as insulting to religion.

“For example, if a foreigner got a tattoo of the Buddha on their ankle, Buddhists would see that as insulting to their religion,” he said.

“But if a foreigner gets a cross on their ankle, Buddhists probably wouldn't think anything of it, but other foreigners might not be satisfied.”

“Because of that, the basic principle is that you must respect the rights of the individual, but you must not violate the rights or beliefs of others,” he added.

– Kom Chad Luek

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-- Phuket Gazette 2011-06-01

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Culture Minister Niphit Intharasombat ought to get a life and start worrying about something that actually matters...

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i like this debate.. he has some points..

either way, it gets people thinking.

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I thought Parliament had been dissolved. Surely there are no actual Ministers right now? Please correct me if I am wrong.

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Does this mean there will be random butt-cheek inspections at popular nightclubs?

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Thailand says religious tattoos taboo

BANGKOK, June 1, 2011 (AFP) - Thailand has ordered a crackdown on foreign tourists having religious images tattooed on their bodies while visiting the kingdom, official media said Wednesday.

Tattoos with images such as of the Buddha may offend Thai people, Culture Minister Nipit Intarasombat was quoted as telling reporters.

He said his ministry had asked regional governors, particularly in tourist hotspots, to inspect tattoo studios and ask them not to use religious patterns, according to the state-run National News Bureau.

It said he would push for a law banning people from etching sacred images onto their skin.

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-- (c) Copyright AFP 2011-06-01

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I thought Parliament had been dissolved. Surely there are no actual Ministers right now? Please correct me if I am wrong.

They are acting Ministers as happens in a Parliamentary system --the govt still works until new elections,

and with that may I ask that you please do not hijack the thread with off topic commentary

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Thailand is a police state. In a police state there is always a Buffoon knowing what's best for you, the country or the religion. Don't worry it is just another reason to vote for a party that does not use laws to their own advantage.

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serious?????????? does Thailand Government own buidism??? they seam to think so../. but I guess it's the biggest business in Thailand (most likely).

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Culture Minister Niphit Intharasombat ought to get a life and start worrying about something that actually matters...

He has a life, a holier then thou life. I'm not an expert on any religion but the feeling I get when asking, "what would Jesus do?" Or "What would Buddha say?" in a true gospel/dhamma orthodox sense, the Buddha would say just like it's in the scorpions nature to sting, it is in a poseurs nature to pose.

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I much prefer Buddhist tatoos to the usual military/biker type.

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Just about every Thai guy in our village has some 'lucky' religious tattoo somewhere on his body. Alot of them done at the local wat. I wonder if the proposed law banning religious images on the body is intended for both farang and Thais?

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Gotta be better that "love" "hate" on the fingers...

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People with visible religious tattoos who engaged in “bad behavior” such as “sitting drinking alcohol and arguing” would damage the faiths through association, Mr Niphit said.

Ummm... don't we always see TONS of Thais everywhere with religious tattoos engaged in various forms of "bad behavior"? Granted, the religious tattoos that Thais get are usually different from the ones that farangs get, such as religious symbols or text scriptures... but still... Double standard here?

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Ah well, now that all the the really important stuff has been sorted out, they have all the time in the world to concentrate on these issues. blink.gif

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Do you feel good at night the fine people at the culture ministry are on the JOB. :jap:

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I used to run a tattoo shop in Bangkok and

I can assure you all that the Thai tattooists would never tattoo

Buddhist stuff in an inappropriate place, however, stuff that is not their religion

they do not care about.

We also refused to tattoo peoples faces until they were made aware that a face tattoo

would put most people outside of normal society, however, other tattoo shops would do anything for money: excepting Buddhas in the wrong place!!

I think the worst one we had was a Swedish girl who wanted "bon appetit" in her pubic hair but spelt it

"bon appertit " and insisted on her spelling!!

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"the ministry's Subcommittee on Safe and Creative Media"

straight out of Orwell

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Another crackdown by The Culture ministry, what a bunch of tools.

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Just about every Thai guy in our village has some 'lucky' religious tattoo somewhere on his body. Alot of them done at the local wat.

[ummm... don't we always see TONS of Thais everywhere with religious tattoos...

Those tattoos have arguably little or nothing to do with "religion". (No more than the typical tourist's does --though they do have a different significance and perceived importance).

Edit for Format

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:whistling: OK let me think, Ministry of Appropriate Tattoo, no, no....Anti-Farang Tattoo Laws allowing local police to fine Farang with religious tattoo's 500 Baht if watching a go go dancer or drinking a beer.

Why not change the official Thai Tourist Ad Catch Phrase to "Come to Thailand - we're more tolerant than Afghanistan". :(

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