A man has been detained in Cambodia over a TikTok video in which he disparaged Angkor Wat, a revered temple and the country’s biggest tourist attraction.
Cambodian man Nhel Thearina uploaded a video for his 100,000 TikTok followers — which was later shared on Facebook — that questioned by the ancient site was so revered in Cambodia, Associated Press reported.
“Why does everyone love posting about Angkor Wat temple?” he said in the video.
“Everyone loves posting Angkor Wat, as if Angkor Wat belongs to Cambodians. In fact, it does not belong to Cambodians, so don’t post it. If you can stop, please stop.”
AP reported that it was unclear why Mr Thearina made those claims about the temples at Angkor Wat, which were built between the 5th and 15th centuries, and are such a symbol of Cambodian national pride they appear on the country’s flag.
The site, north of the city of Siem Reap, is also the country’s top tourist drawcard and usually attracts about 2.6 million visitors a year.
Mr Thearina posted an apology in another video after the first post, which he deleted from TikTok, attracted backlash.
“I have said that Angkor Wat temple does not belong to Cambodia. Yeah, I was told that I wrongly said those words and now I would like to give my apology,” he said in the second video.
“I was wrong to say those words.”
But the apology wasn’t good enough for Cambodian authorities.
Major General Pen Rath, the police chief in the eastern Cambodian province of Tbong Khmum, said Mr Thearina was arrested because his video “would cause chaos in society”, AP reported.
He was taken before a judge on Wednesday but it is unclear what he has been charged with.
Tourists’ behaviour at the sacred Angkor Wat complex has raised the ire of authorities before.
In 2015, two American sisters were deported from Cambodia after they were convicted of taking naked photos inside Angkor Wat’s Preah Khan temple.
The sisters were both given a suspended six-month prison sentence on public exposure and making pornography charges and were banned from re-entering Cambodia for four years.
It came months after a January 2015 incident in which three French tourists stripped naked in front of one of the temples and received suspended sentences, fines, deportation and a four-year ban — and their camera equipment was confiscated.
The acts of indecency prompted authorities to enforce strict rules around visitor behaviour at Angkor Wat.
More recently, the temple complex has been a ghost town as international tourists are kept away due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.