Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) has, in a Facebook post, apologised for publishing a module which referred to Hindus living in India as "unclean" and "dirty." The post also said the university is "currently conducting a thorough investigation on this incident, and due action will be taken as necessary."
The apology comes after P Kamalanathan, Malaysia's deputy minister of education, who also happens to be an ethnic Indian, spoke "to the Vice-Chancellor of UTM" about the issue and "asked him to please ensure that such errors are not repeated as they can cause confusion and hurt in some segments of students beside not being factual."
Calling the episode "painful", the minister, in another Facebook post, said he was deeply disappointed by the "misrepresentation of certain religions," and that he has requested "the Higher Education Ministry to please ensure that all public universities TITAS syllabus is first verified by experts in the religion before being included in the syllabus."
The Press Trust of India (PTI) had reported that a teaching module published by UTM courted controversy after it referred to Hindus living in India as "unclean" and "dirty." Slides from the module, which were posted online, outraged the minority of the country, which has a majority population of Muslims.
The module consisted of slides that claimed Hindus in India consider their body dirt an important religious practice to achieve nirvana. The slides also claimed Islam had brought civility into their lives.
The module, while aiming to explain the origins of Sikhism, apparently claimed Guru Nanak did not have a good understanding of Islam and merged it with his Hindu lifestyle to lay the foundation of Sikhism.
According to PTI, the Malaysian Indian Progressive Association (MIPAS) also condemned the module and called for its retraction as well as an apology from UTM.
"MIPAS condemns completely the actions of UTM for publishing and allowing such a module that contains negative elements in its educational course that carries elements of insult and harassment as well as demean the purity of the Hindu faith... The teaching is insulting followers of Hinduism as a dirty community and a community that regard physical filth as part of its religious practice," S Barathidasan, secretary-general of MIPAS, was quoted by PTI as saying.
Apparently, a police complaint against the university was also lodged by the chairman of the Hindu Dharma Association of Malaysia in Sungai Petani, a town located in the northern part of Peninsular Malaysia.