Parent, interest groups seek legal remedy over khat for non-Muslim pupils

The decision to introduce khat lessons for Year Four primary school pupils at vernacular schools was made by the Pakatan Harapan government in January.

KUALA LUMPUR: A parent and two organisations have filed a judicial review to quash the government’s decision compelling pupils in Chinese and Tamil primary schools to study khat or Jawi calligraphy.

R Visa Letchumy, president of the Ex-Chinese School Students Association Tan Kim Sen @ Tan Boon Tak and Persatuan Hindu Agamam Malaysia chairman D Ravi also want lessons on the subject to be suspended pending a final court ruling.

The three applicants who filed their action two days ago must obtain the leave of a High Court before the merit of their case can be heard.

Lawyer T Gunaseelan said the ex-parte leave application would be heard before judge Nordin Hassan at 2.30pm on July 7.

The decision to introduce khat lessons for Year Four primary school pupils at vernacular schools was made by the Pakatan Harapan government in January.

Following criticism from educational groups, the government later announced that Jawi was optional and would not be a test subject.

Tan, who filed an affidavit in support of the judicial review application, said khat, which originates from Saudi Arabia, had religious connotations.

He added that Muslims use khat to represent God as Islam prohibits the use of images.

“Khat is a revered art as it is also the best way to preserve the Quran,” Tan said in the affidavit sighted by FMT.

Tan, who also referred to a number of articles written by Muslim authorities and academics, said the Islamic calligraphy would confuse Muslims if non-Muslims were allowed to use it, for example in posters for religious activities.

“Further, the use of khat in business and immoral activities from the perspective of Islam would cause discomfort to Muslims,” he added.

Tan said the compulsory teaching of khat at Chinese and Tamil schools was also against Articles 11 and 12 of the Federal Constitution.

“This compulsory subject for non-Muslim pupils is a way of inculcating Islamic values, and parents have the right to reject it,” he said.

He also said the compulsory teaching of khat was an irrational decision as the art could not be used to draw quotations from non-Muslim religious texts.

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