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Last Updated: Monday, 13 September, 2004, 15:42 GMT 16:42 UK
Thais to publish etiquette guide
A Sri Lankan Buddhist monk holds aloft a poster for the movie Hollywood Buddha
The film poster caused widespread anger
The Thai government says it is writing a book on national etiquette to try to tackle the problem of culturally insensitive foreigners.

It was prompted to act after posters for a US film picturing a man sitting on the head of a Buddha statue caused public outrage.

Thailand is an overwhelmingly Buddhist country, and disrespecting the Buddha's image is taken seriously.

Some officials called for "malicious" foreigners to be banned from Thailand.

But a government minister denied reports that it was preparing a blacklist to ban foreigners who had offended Thai culture.

"It is up to them if they will believe and follow what we've suggested," Vice-Minister for Culture Weerasak Kowsurat told Reuters news agency.

'Please stop'

Religion is deeply respected in Thai culture, as is the royal family, and insulting either of them is considered extremely rude.

The US film that caused offence, Hollywood Buddha, is the story of a struggling film producer who turns to the Buddhist faith to help boost his career.

Empowered by the support of his new-found religion, the producer starts to turn things around.

The poster has also angered Buddhist monks in the region.

About 500 monks from Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Burma have been demonstrating in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo.

"Please Western people, or US government or US people or whatever people who is trying to degrade the Buddha, please stop that act," monk Sachu Waru, who joined the protest, told the BBC.

The film's writer and director Philippe Caland has agreed to withdraw the poster.

He also apologised for "this inadvertent insult and disrespect".


SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Thailand
17 Jun 04  |  Country profiles
Timeline: Thailand
11 Aug 04  |  Country profiles



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