KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim has pleaded with Malaysians not to allow themselves to be divided across racial or religious lines by the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict.
Instead, he said they should look at the issue from a historical and humanitarian perspective, drawing from the country’s own experience in gaining independence from British colonisation.
“Malaysia gained independence by rejecting British colonialism. Together we opposed British colonialism. Why are we restrained when it comes to Israel’s occupation of Palestine?
“Some might consider us to be too harsh, and say we are contradicting our principles.
“Yes, Malaysia upholds the principle of exceptionality, but not when it comes to injustice and the death of thousands of children,” Anwar told the Dewan Rakyat during the prime minister’s question time.
Anwar said he supported the education ministry’s decision to encourage schoolchildren to follow the developments in Palestine so as to enlighten them on the “meaning of ‘injustice’ and ‘suppression'”.
“Of course, we have guidelines to ensure that we do not appear to promote violence and hatred (among students),” he said.
Several quarters have urged the ministry to stop the programme and take disciplinary action following reports of students and teachers carrying toy guns at several solidarity events organised in schools last week.
In response, the ministry said it would not condone activities with “extremist” elements, adding that the use of replica weapons, icons and symbols in a provocative and confrontational manner was “strictly prohibited”.
A 55-second video that went viral on social media showed an event held in a school involving what appeared to be a man wearing a bulletproof vest, a balaclava and pointing a toy rifle at students while leading a group of teachers into an assembly.
One of the teachers was seen holding a placard while others waved the Palestinian flag or wore Palestine-themed scarves across their faces and shoulders. Some also held toy rifles.
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