Police dis­perse mob stirred by king in­sult

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Police and sol­diers on the Thai re­sort is­land of Phuket dis­persed a mob of sev­eral hun­dred peo­ple seek­ing a con­fronta­tion with a man they be­lieved in­sulted the coun­try’s king, who died this week. Video shot Fri­day even­ing shows the crowd block­ing the road out­side a soy milk shop and wav­ing plac­ards with slurs such as “buf­falo,” a lo­cal slang word for stu­pid­ity. Some shouted for the man to come out.

One man in the rowdy crowd yelled, “If you don’t love the king, who else would you love in this land?” as oth­ers ar­gued with of­fi­cers block­ing the en­trance to the shop. King Bhu­mi­bol Adulyadej’s death Thurs­day af­ter 70 years on the throne has sparked a na­tional out­pour­ing of grief. Police and a com­mu­nity leader wield­ing a mega­phone dis­persed the crowd by lead­ing them to a lo­cal police sta­tion to lay a com­plaint.

Thai me­dia re­ported that the crowd’s anger stemmed from online com­ments that were made by the man long be­fore the king’s death. Thai­land has dra­co­nian lese ma­jeste laws that im­pose stiff prison sen­tences for ac­tions or writ­ings re­garded as deroga­tory to­ward the monarch or his fam­ily. Phuket police com­man­der Theer­apol Thipcharoen said the pub­lic “came out to ex­press their love for the king and weren’t happy for any­one to dis­re­spect him.” “But they were not vi­o­lent and they knew it would be in­ap­pro­pri­ate, es­pe­cially in the cir­cum­stance,” he said.

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