In a recent episode of a television show he's hosting, Mohammad Shareef takes his viewers on a tour of Bangkok's Chinatown. After walking around and showing us the area's attractions _ in a similar format to most variety programmes on Thai TV _ Mohammad proceeds to the show's next highlight: an ancient mosque in the middle of the capital's Chinese neighbourhood, where the host joins the congregation in an afternoon prayer. The muezzin's call, the Koran recital and the solemn rite in the mosque are all parts of the programme.
Mohammad - his Thai name is Krisada Patcharapipat - is not exactly a household name to prime-time viewers. But to those who've been watching Muslim-related programmes and drama series on Thai television in the past decade, his angular, Indian-Indonesian-Thai-looking face, sometimes decked with glasses, sometimes with a goatee, is a familiar recurrence on the screen.
Cornering a subcultural niche, Mohammad is that unusual TV personality whose career is built almost solely on Islamic television shows. The Chinatown tour hosted by Mohammad is part of the Ramadan Night programme, a month-long special broadcast on Channel 9 during the Islamic fasting month.
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