Thai PM says police monitoring of Muslim students needed for security

Thailand's prime minister defended police for requesting information about minority Muslim students from universities around the country after the move was called discriminatory and illegal.

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha said on Tuesday the police request, which follows a series of bomb blasts in the capital Bangkok in August blamed on Muslim suspects, was needed to build a national security database.

An official letter from police, shared online by former rights commissioner Angkhana Neelapaijit, asked a university to supply information about the numbers, place of origin, sect affiliation and other details about Muslim-organized student groups. The name of the university was blotted out.

"This is an interference to personal rights and a discrimination based on religion," Angkhana said, adding freedom of religion and the right to privacy were guaranteed by the Thai constitution.

About 90 percent of Thais are Buddhist, though Muslims are a majority in three southern provinces bordering Malaysia.

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