A PRIMARY school in Malaysia has invited ire for segregating drinking cups for Muslim and non-Muslim students, in what has been described as an “apartheid-like” practice.
According to Free Malaysia Today, the school in Taman Puteri, Hulu Langat on the outskirts of the capital, was found to have separated the cups at a drinking water dispenser.
The issue came to light after several images of the cups, labelled with “Muslim” and “non-Muslim” tags circulated on social media.
A member of a non-governmental organisation called the G25, which promotes moderation and national cohesion, said the issue was deeply troubling and reflected the future direction of Islam, the nation’s official religion.
“Things like this will only create divisions among Malaysians in the name of so-called religious practices,” G25 member Johan Arriffin was quoted by the FMT as saying.
“In fact, it shows how much we’ve lost our sense of what religious values actually mean — religious values like tolerance.”
Islam prescribes eating meat prepared in accordance with Muslim law, or halal. Muslims are also forbidden from eating pork. The segregation was believed to have been based on concerns non-Muslims would taint the cups with non-halal elements.
Johan said what mattered more was the cleanliness of the cups, not who uses them.
“With a cup, you wash it and it’s clean. It doesn’t matter whether it is used by a Muslim or not. To have separate cups is plain stupid.”
The country’s Education Ministry has yet to comment on the matter.
However, Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia founder Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the practice was similar to apartheid-era segregation.
“It (apartheid) is a strong word to describe this, but the country will head in that direction if we do not cap it,” she told Asian Correspondent.
Echoing Johan’s concerns, Azimah said: “In apartheid times, restaurants and buses were segregated and this (incident) may be the start of it.”
“If we don’t put a stop to it, it will get worse and will reach a point where there will be separate restaurants and toilets for Muslims and non-Muslims.
“That could lead to extremism,” she said.