A Malaysian school has been accused of mistreating elementary non-Muslim pupils by making them consume lunch in the toilet cum changing room during the holy month of Ramadan.
The school in question is Sekolah Kebangsaan Seri Pristana in Malaysia's Selangor state. The matter came to light when alleged pictures of elementary school kids taking lunch in the school lavatory were circulated online.
Several children were seen in the photos eating at tables placed close to sinks and shower stalls. The photos were supposedly uploaded by a concerned parent who wished to highlight the matter since school authorities paid no heed to the complaints, reported The Star.
The school's move was an attempt at skewed Ramadan practice. However, it was nowhere mentioned that non-Muslims and that too children should undergo the day-long fast which Muslims follow during the pious month.
The school's headmaster, Mohd Nasir, refuted the allegations and said the canteen was closed due to minor renovations and the eating spot in the lavatory was a temporary arrangement. He added that he had received no complaints before.
Hussein Mohd Ariff, the head of the school's Parent Teacher Association (PTA), said PTA members were aware of the situation and held a discussion about it.
The school's alleged mistreatment of hapless children invited huge wrath from public and government alike. Many non-Muslims along with Muslims protested the dastardly act by venting their ire on social networks and demanding immediate government intervention.
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was quoted saying by The Star, "I have instructed the director-general of the Education Ministry to investigate the issue of non-Muslim pupils who were asked to eat in a tandas (toilet)."
Chinese minority representative party Malaysian Chinese Associated (MCA) president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek condemning the matter voiced for equal respect for all and expressed displeasure. "Everybody in this country must show mutual respect for each other. I do not see why pupils are not allowed to eat in the canteen which can be used by all pupils," he said.
People's Justice Party (PKR) vice -President Fuziah Salleh said such acts represented a bad image for Islam which promotes no such activity."Islam does not have such teachings. The religion may get tainted just because of this headmaster," she said.
In the face of the growing backlash Malaysian Education ministry officials reportedly visited the school and its headmaster asking them to put an end to the partial and offensive practice.
Deputy Minister of Education P. Kamalanathan on Wednesday said, "As far as we are concerned, the issue is resolved. The headmaster had good intentions but chose a poor location. He has apologised. I too apologise. It won't happen again."
Further checks on other schools will be conducted to check if any similar misconduct has taken place, informed the minister.