BANGKOK — A Muslim talk show host apologized for offending Buddhists by mocking prostration to religious idols, after the nation’s top Islamic cleric blasted him on social media.
Natapol Puthpawana, or “Toh Silly Fools,” host of online talk show “Toh-Tal” apologized Wednesday for saying he would not prostrate before things he considered to be beneath him. The apology came a day after Aziz Pitakkumpol, the nation’s highest Islamic spiritual leader, called him out for going against the Quran and acting as a religious expert.
“I would like to apologize to everyone in Thailand who was hurt. I too am disappointed,” Toh said. “I want people of all religions to cooperate, but I made people misunderstand that I was insulting others. It’s a misunderstanding but I still apologize,” he said.
Natapol also asked people to watch old tapes of his shows because he always “puts every religion in the highest place,” and said he was only replying as a Muslim to the issue of statues and figures of worship.
“I’m not feeling so sabai jai today, since there’s someone acting as a religious expert criticizing other religions,” Aziz, who heads the Sheikhul Islam Office, the nation’s state-sanctioned Islamic authority, said in his video. “But actually, Islam forbids condemnation or criticism of other religions and their believers.”
“And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge,” Aziz added, quoting the Quran.
Aziz warned those who act as religious experts to be careful, lest they create social discord.
In the Friday episode of his Facebook Live talk show, Natapol was answering questions about religion that people sent. In response to the question, “Why does Islam not have statues of Allah, unlike Buddhists, to anchor one’s heart in?”
“I would not graab anything that is as low as, or lower than me. A statue breaks if you push it. It’s lower than me already; it’s inanimate. Why would I wai something that’s not alive?” Natapol said. “It’s uglier than me; you could sculpt with all your power and it wouldn’t be as handsome as me.”
Islam forbids depictions of Allah or the prophet Muhammad.
Some voiced their anger on social media.
Rocker Sek Loso, or Seksan Sukpimai, wrote on his Facebook Tuesday night, telling Natapol to “shut up and go to sell beef! I’ll kick you! You’re creating religious conflict, you shouldn’t have a place in society!” The post was accompanied by a photo of Toh at a butcher’s.
“I’m not mad at Islam, but I’m mad at Toh. He’s acting so boastful, when actually you’re the one that’s low, singing songs and getting high on various drugs,” commented Facebook user Kanchanok Chainarong. “I think Toh is like a disease of the religion, just like monks who violate precepts in Buddhism.”
However, Facebook user San Binlateh said Natapol didn’t actually say anything wrong.
“Toh didn’t insult Buddhism, but he was answering a question. Buddhists insult Islam all the time but we never make it an issue,” he wrote.
Toh is a former member of rock band Silly Fools. He left the music industry in 2012 to become an imam.