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Oddly Enough

Thai monks told to behave on networking Web sites

Monks wait for alms outside a Buddhist temple in Bangkok September 26, 2006. Thai officials urged Buddhist monks on Tuesday to avoid using social networking Web sites to woo women after an advocacy group found some monks were doing just that. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thai officials urged Buddhist monks on Tuesday to avoid using social networking Web sites to woo women after an advocacy group found some monks were doing just that.

The request came as police in the northeast detained a monk accused of using a Web site to lure a woman to his temple and raping her.

“I call on Hi5 users to tell the monks to leave the site if they are found using it,” junior minister Jakrapob Penkair told reporters after a Buddhist monitoring group said some monks were flirting on the Web site popular with Thai users.

Reports of monks caught using or selling drugs or having consensual sex with women are not uncommon in the Thai media, which reported on Tuesday a 23-year-old monk was caught raping a teenager he lured to his room through the Web site.

A senior Culture Ministry official said monks should not be banned from the cyberspace, but should turn this “crisis” into “opportunity” by bringing Buddha’s teaching to the young.

“Instead of using the Net to flirt with young girls, monks should find ways to preach Dharma and lead them in the right direction,” said Ladda Thangsupachai, head of the Cultural Surveillance Centre.

Reporting by Nopporn Wong-Anan; Editing by Michael Battye

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