Thursday, June 25, 2015

Don’t encourage forcing religious beliefs on others, Bar tells deputy minister



Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru (pic) says Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap’s comments served to propagate the view that the act of eating or drinking in the presence of Muslims during Ramadan was an act of disrespect. ― File picMalaysian Bar president Steven Thiru (pic) says Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap’s comments served to propagate the view that the act of eating or drinking in the presence of Muslims during Ramadan was an act of disrespect. ― File picKUALA LUMPUR, June 25 — A deputy minister’s remark telling non-Muslims to avoid eating in front of fasting Muslims only serves to prod misguided Malaysians into imposing their beliefs upon others, a disapproving Malaysian Bar has said.
Criticising Deputy Education Minister Datuk Mary Yap’s remark in response to the controversy of a Kedah schoolteacher who told non-Muslim students not to drink urine in a purported joke, Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru said she should instead by arresting the tendency to compel followers of one religion to observe the norms of another.
“Our future as a nation will be in jeopardy if this worrying trend is not arrested and reversed,” he said in a statement sent late last night.
According to the head of the Malaysian Bar, Yap’s comments served to propagate the view that the act of eating or drinking in the presence of Muslims during Ramadan was an act of disrespect.
The daily dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramadan is one of the five pillars of Islam, but although the abstinence applies only to Muslims, some are offended when followers of other faiths do not similarly refrain in their presence.
“The purpose of fasting is not to inconvenience others who are not fasting. Indeed, to impose any such inconvenience would appear to be contrary to the spirit of the fasting month and devalues the qualities that it seeks to honour,” Steven said.
Criticising the deputy minister’s response as “disturbing”, he further warned that her line of thought would encourage encroachment upon the rights of non-Muslims by those seeking to observe their own religious obligations.
This, in turn, would engender resentment among non-Muslims forced to limit their own behaviour in observation of another religion, which Steven categorised recipe for disharmony and disunity in Malaysia.
“All too often we hear of attempts to compel or impose respect and understanding in our schools in a divisive manner. This serves to poison the minds of our children, and sows in them the seeds of prejudice, distrust and suspicion,” he said further. 
On Tuesday, Yap reportedly said that non-Muslims should consume food and drink discreetly and outside the view of fasting Muslims, when asked to comment on the case of the Kedah schoolteacher.
The Kedah incident is reminiscent of a 2013 incident in which a Sungai Buloh primary school encountered controversy after non-Muslim students were pictured eating in a toilet during Ramadan.
Yesterday, lawyer Azahar Harun posted a Facebook entry in which he lambasted the “horrible” demand on non-Muslims not to eat or drink in front of Muslims during Ramadan, noting that such impositions were rarely made in the opposite direction.
The Kedah school incident also comes amid growing concerns of creeping Islamisation in Malaysia, in which the norms of the increasingly conservative Muslim majority are gradually being imposed on the rest of the country both directly and covertly.
Incidents that support the view include Muslim protests against Oktoberfest-themed events open only to non-Muslims, uproar over a gold-medallist Muslim gymnast over her leotard, and growing complaints of arbitrary dress codes at government departments and agencies.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/dont-encourage-forcing-religious-beliefs-on-others-bar-tells-deputy-ministe#sthash.J1ii2RrR.3vPQfXiI.dpuf

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