Friday, May 12, 2006

Thais insulted by shoes with royal symbol

SYDNEY, May 11 (UPI) -- An Australian artist received angry complaints from the Thai Consulate after painting the Thai flag and a symbol of Thailand's king on a pair of sneakers.

To the Thai people, wearing the royal "Garuda" symbol -- half-man, half-bird -- on one's feet is considered a grave insult to their revered monarch.

The artist, who asked not to be named, runs a part-time business at his Melbourne home. He and his younger brother painted the sneakers as requested by an Australian man of Thai heritage for $239. He then posted a picture of the sneakers, along with a range of other sneaker designs, on his Web site.

After hearing from the Thai Consulate, the artist apologized and said he would remove the image from his Web site, The Australian reported Thursday.

An official at the Thai Foreign Ministry in Bangkok said the sight of shoes carrying Thailand's red, white and blue striped flag along with the "Garuda" symbol had "hurt the feelings of Thais."

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