Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Sungai Buloh school was wrong, say Muslim scholars

Muslim scholars have frowned on measures taken by a school in Sungai Buloh in protecting the sanctity of the fasting month by ordering its non-Muslim students to have their meals in a shower room.

They said this was not the right way for the school to educate its non-Muslim pupils on how to respect those who are fasting.

Former Perlis mufti Datuk Dr Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin said: “Obviously what the school in Sungai Buloh had done was wrong.”

“Even if the school wanted to educate the non-Muslim pupils to respect their fellow students who are fasting they could have done it in a better way,” he said.

“This incident should not have taken place as non-muslims are not required to fast,” he said.

Dr Asri suggested the school advice its pupils on the do’s and don’ts during the fasting month.

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PAS Dewan Ulama deputy chief Datuk Dr Mahfodz Mohamed also agreed that this was not the proper way to deal with the non-Muslims pupils.

The school should have provided a better place for non-Muslim pupils to have their meals if the canteen was out-of bounds.

“They should have designated a classroom for this purpose not put them in a shower room.

"This not only sends a wrong signal to the non-Muslim pupils but it will also obviously ruin the children's appetite," Dr Mahfodz told The Malaysian Insider.

The co-ed school, SK Seri Pristana, is in the news after reports emerged that non-Muslim pupils were kept behind closed doors in the shower room during recess as it was the fasting month.

A Facebook posting by a parent showing the pupils having their meal in the shower room has gone viral.

So far, the school authorities have remained silent but the Education Ministry yesterday ordered that they stop the practice of ordering their non-Muslim pupils from having their meals in the shower room.

Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had also ordered for an investigation into the case, warning that action will be taken if the report is true.

Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan had said that although this is a sacred month for Muslims, there should be mutual respect among everyone and that this "should not translate to demanding non-Muslims to not eat their meals in public places".

At least one police report was lodged against the school yesterday while other parties are expected to follow suit today.

Meanwhile, the National Union of Teaching Profession said "it is wrong for the school to do this is the name of religion".

NUTP president Hashim Adnan added that those responsible should apologise to the pupils and parents.

He, however, was quick to add that the school headmaster may not have been aware of what happened and that this could have been the work of a subordinate.

"Whoever made the decision is wrong. It is unacceptable to force the children to have their meals in the shower room."

National Parent Teacher Association Collaborative Council president Datuk Mohd Ali Hassan said what the school did was "inhumane" and urged the Education Department to investigate the matter and take the necessary steps so that this situation will not recur in other schools. - July 24, 2013.

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