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.