US teacher in trouble in Vietnam over offensive comments

HANOI, Vietnam — An American teacher in Vietnam is in trouble for making offensive comments about one of the country's most revered figures.

Daniel Hauer, an English teacher in Hanoi, commented on Facebook that he was getting a genital piercing with a part in the shape of late Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap, a national hero who fought the French and American invaders. Giap died at age 102 in 2013.

The comments drew a furious public response, with many calling for his deportation.

In a meeting with the Ministry of Information and Communication Tuesday, Hauer apologized to Giap's family and the people of Vietnam. He said he hoped the public to give him a chance to correct his mistake.

State media quoted ministry official Le Quang Tu Do as saying that Hauer could be fined up to $2,200 but a final decision will be made soon depending on his behavior.

Hauer declined to comment Wednesday. He has been living in Vietnam for five years and is married to a Vietnamese woman with a child.

State media quoted his wife, Le Thi Hau, as saying she was living in fear following the incident with people texting and calling with threats. She also said that English learning centers cut contracts with her husband.

In a video clip posted on his Facebook page following the comments last week, Hauer said he only made sarcastic jokes after a fellow English teacher vowed to have the Vietnamese flag tattooed on his chest if the Vietnamese soccer team won the Asian Football U23 competition. He said he did not think that the Vietnamese would take his jokes seriously.

"Dan just wants everybody to understand that Dan has no intention whatsoever to vilify Vietnam or vilify Vo Nguyen Giap," he said in the video clip, speaking in Vietnamese. "Dan learnt a lesson to be careful in using names and images of others in a joke, particularly famous Vietnamese historical figures."

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