Report: Malaysian Teacher Reprimanded For Making Hindu Students Shave Religious Beards
The Star newspaper quoted State Education Director Hussain Harun as saying that the teacher in the northern Perak state was enforcing school regulations that require students to be clean shaven. However, he was guilty of being insensitive to the students' feelings, and has been told off, Hussain was quoted as saying.
The teacher also forced the students to remove religious wristbands to enforce a rule that no ornaments be worn in school. "If need be, the teacher would have to apologize ... for hurting their feelings by being insensitive to their religious and cultural needs. The best way is to ask for their forgiveness," The Star quoted Hussain as saying.
Hussain could not immediately be reached, and the education officer investigating the case declined to comment.
The students were growing their hair as part of a ritual for the Thaipusam festival that was celebrated on Jan. 23. Many ethnic Indians, who form 8 percent of Malaysia's 27 million population, let their hair grow for a certain period and have themselves shaved on Thaipusam day.
The Star did not identify the teacher's religion.
The incident is a reflection of growing racial friction, which threatens to unravel the country's carefully nurtured ethnic and religious pluralism. About 60 percent of the population is Muslim Malay, and the minority Indians and Chinese are concerned that a pro-Muslim tilt in the civil service and judiciary is eroding their religious rights.
Lok Yim Pheng, secretary general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession, slammed the teacher's actions. "Of course, we don't want the boys' beards to be too long, but we must understand these particular boys' religion," she told The Associated Press. "The teacher should be more sensitive ... They must act professionally. They cannot act out of emotions." (PR-Inside.com)
***** 'The Star did not identify the teacher's religion.' Hmmm.
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