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Warnings over 'fake' Buddhist monks hassling London tourists for money

by Chloe Chaplain, The Evening Standard, 19 August 2016

London, UK -- Buddhist groups have issued warnings after “fake” monks were spotted hassling London tourists for cash “donations” in exchange for “peace”.

The men, dressed in orange robes have been reportedly approaching people at the city’s tourist hotspots to ask for money in exchange for prayers.

The Sun reported four of the “monks” were approaching holiday-makers stationed between Tower Bridge and Southwark Bridge on Monday evening.

They were demanding money in exchange for tokens and reportedly became aggressive if people refused or did not pay enough.

American tourist Aaron Wagle, 18, told the newspaper he was approached by one of them near City Hall and asked to write down an amount he would like to donate.

Mr Wagle said the man did not tell him what his donations would go towards, adding: “He didn’t really say much. He said he wanted to talk about peace and said he would pray for me.

“He then asked me to write down how much money I was going to give him.

“I gave £1 but then he got annoyed and demanded more so I gave him a load of change.

“I don’t think I gave him more than about £1.50.

“He said it was a donation for something, but he wouldn’t say what.”

Jan, another tourist on holiday with his four children, was also reportedly approached by one of the monks.

He told The Sun: “He asked me for £10 and I said no, but I still paid £5.

“It seemed quite aggressive, I felt quite pressured but I still wanted to help him and I said ‘good luck.'”

The Buddhist Society said it had been receiving calls from members of the public complaining about the Monks’ behaviour in London.

A spokesman said: “We had a call from a concerned member of the public about this just yesterday and we have heard of it before.

“People feel it is demeaning to the image of Buddhism.”

He explained that the men were likely to be “fake” because “genuine” monks are forbidden from handling money.

“Genuine monks would never ask for money - Buddhist monks can’t handle money,” he explained.

“Traditionally though monks are beggars. In places like Thailand they beg and are given gifts of food such as rice which they are allowed to eat but not take money. They wouldn’t be able to touch it.”


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