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    » 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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    See also

    22/08/2009 SAUDI ARABIA
    Ramadan begins for many Arab countries and Iran
    It is the month of fasting and charity. Muslims must abstain from food, drink and sexual relations from sunrise to sunset. In Saudi Arabia there is a swine flu emergency, slowing down the arrival of pilgrims on the Omra. But there are hundreds of thousands of beggars, many of them children, organized by racketeers.

    10/01/2007 CHINA
    As the Olympics approach, no schooling for children of migrant workers
    In Shanghai, a school for migrant children is shut down and students are dumped in a building without teaching and dining facilities. The authorities turn a deaf ear to requests for an alternative location. Tens of thousands of children in Beijing and Shanghai are left without an education.

    28/03/2007 PHILIPPINES
    School head takes 32 pupils hostage, pleas government for schools and housing
    The man, who sequestered two priests in the past, has barricaded himself with his pupils aged between three and five along with two accomplices in a bus in front of the Manila council buildings. After a day of tension, they have been all released.

    13/03/2006 CHINA
    Only NGOs take care of migrant children's education
    Teachers' passion and donations are the only hope for millions of children neglected by the public school system. Beijing's Xingzhi School shows how difficulty it is to do good for free.

    06/08/2011 MALAYSIA
    Malaysian Catholics to promote blood and organ donation
    During the Muslim month of fasting and prayer, blood banks are low in supplies. Catholics are trying to fill the gap. A community near Kuala Lumpur kicks off a collection drive on 14 August. Between 1997 and 2011, Malaysia has had less than 197,000 organ donors. The Catholic Church backs the faithful’s initiative.



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