» 07/24/2013, 00.00
MALAYSIA - ISLAM
Non-Muslim pupils forced to eat in bathroom because of Ramadan
The act of segregation is condemned by politicians and Muslims. Our "religion does not dictate this," Muslim woman says. However, in many Islamic countries, non-Muslims are required to respect the eating ban during the period of fasting.
Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Non-Muslim children in a Malaysian primary
school were forced to have lunch in the facility's change room whilst their
classmates fasted during Ramadan. Pictures
of ethnic Chinese and Indian (usually Christian or Hindu) children were posted
on the internet by one of the mothers, Guneswari Kelly, causing an uproar among
politicians and Muslims opposed to unhygienic segregation.
On her Facebook page, Kelly Guneswari wrote that staff at the Sri Pristana School,
in suburban Kuala Lumpur, told non-Muslim children
to eat in the school's bathroom and not in the canteen. "Is
this fair? Can [a national school] treat [non-Muslim pupils] like this" during Ramadan?
After being informed, Deputy
Prime Minister and Education Minister Muhyiddin Yassin ordered an investigation into the matter, saying he would take action.
School officials have not released any statement, but Jehan Bakar, a Muslim
woman lawyer and mother of two, said she was "horrified" by the
segregation of non-Muslim children. Our "religion does not dictate this," she insisted.
In fact Islam does not ask non-Muslims to fast or hide, but in many Islamic
countries, Christians, Hindus or people of other religions are asked (and
sometimes forced) not to eat in public or are not allow to eat at all during
the fasting period,
which runs from dawn to dusk.
In Malaysia, there are often signs of impatience towards Islamic rules that
are often applied in a very restrictive way. Recently, a Chinese couple was
accused of sedition for posting online a Ramadan greeting that showed them eating
pork, which is forbidden in Islam.
In 2010, the principal of a secondary school in the state of Kedah accused
ethnic Chinese students of being insensitive towards their Muslim classmates
because they ate at school during Ramadan, telling them to "return to China" if they could not respect
the culture of other ethnic groups.
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