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Muslims seek travel permission in Thailand

BANGKOK, Nov. 28 (UPI) -- Muslims in Thailand should be allowed to use Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport to travel on their annual haj pilgrimage, an Islamic official says.

While the People's Alliance for Democracy forced the airport to be shut down this week, senior Islamic official Pridi Chueaphudee said the spiritual importance of the pilgrimage should necessitate a private flight for 450 pilgrims currently stranded in Thailand, The Bangkok Post said Friday.

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The Central Islamic Committee of Thailand adviser has asked Thai Prime Minister Somchai Wongsawat in a letter to approve the Muslims' travel plans in the wake of PAD members' seizure of the airport terminal Tuesday.

"On behalf of the Chularatchamontri and the CICT, I beg the PAD to understand the spiritual needs of Thai Muslims," Pridi said, referring to the Chularatchamontri, Thailand's Islamic community head. "We have nothing to do with any side. We maintain our neutrality and, above all, love our King."

The Post said all Muslims have until next Monday to arrive in Saudi Arabia in order to take part in the Islamic pilgrimage.

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