Don: Lessons on love for others can’t curb extremism

PETALING JAYA: An academic has dismissed Education Minister Maszlee Malik’s suggestion to teach more love and empathy in schools in the fight against religious extremism, arguing that these values must be put into practice and made a habit.

Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia said pupils and teachers should mix across ethnic and religious lines.

More needs to be done to ensure that school enrolments and teacher intakes reflect the ethnic and religious demography in the community at large.

“Create spaces where students can sit together without segregating themselves,” he said.

He further suggested that schools organise trips to visit various places of worships and ethnic enclaves so as to increase religious and ethnic tolerance.

Azmil Tayeb.

Schools could also invite leaders of various communities to give talks, and hold exchange programmes with vernacular and religious schools, he said.

The Education Ministry could also revamp Islamic education to be more inclusive of other religions and different teachings within Islam.

Azmil argued that training and certification of teachers should also incorporate these changes, as teachers are the ones who will transmit these ideas in the classroom.

Maszlee recently said that the spread of extremist ideologies can be only be countered through education that is underpinned by love and empathy in the long run.

“When someone is devoid of love and happiness, they will be more easily influenced by extremism and radicalism. They do not love themselves. They feel, if they die, it is okay, so long as their ideology is spread far and wide,” he was reported as saying.

Recently, federal police headquarters announced it had uncovered a plot to attack non-Muslim houses of worship and some famous personalities. A Malaysian, two Rohingya nationals and an Indonesian have been arrested in swoops carried out in Terengganu and the Klang Valley between May 5 and 7.