A few days ago, news broke of an allegedly Malaysian man who attacked a couple kissing in front of a mosque in Rome.
“A 24-year-old Malaysian national was arrested Sunday night for allegedly attacking a couple who were walking hand-in-hand and kissing near an Islamic centre in Rome’s Esquilino quarter,” wrote the Italian media, adding “the man reportedly told them ‘you can’t kiss in front of the mosque’ before pushing the young woman and punching and kicking the young man.”
However, while the news was true, the nationality of the man involved wasn’t.
Nevertheless, by the time The Star rectified and corrected their story the following day, the report had already sent an outrage amongst Malaysians, especially on social media, who were quick to condemn the so-called Malaysian man, and Islam alike.
“An embassy official in Rome said that Italian authorities have confirmed that the suspect is actually from Mali,” wrote The Star after receiving the confirmation from the official.
Mali or Malaysia, the vitriol displayed by Malaysians is not surprising, as seasoned journalist Datuk Nuraina Samad pointed out on her Facebook posting, “It should be expected that the comment section under the first posting by The Star, had all the remarks and comments — so vicious, moronic, malicious, inflammatory…largely by non-Malays & non-Muslims, attacking the broad spectrum of the country, the Malays, Muslims and, of course, Islam as it is taught in Malaysia.”
This is the second report by The Star to correct the first one that had identified the man to be Malaysian. He is not…
While Datuk Ahirudin Attan in his blog (Rocky’s Bru) noted: “Thanks to the error in reporting, we realise that “vicious, moronic, malicious, inflammatory” individuals STILL live among us.”
He even highlighted one of the commenters’ biased and much-delusional opinion against the politicisation of Islam in the country, “Only in Malaysia Muslims are taught to hate and claim Islam is the only true religion and no other religions must be practised.”
And despite the corrected report confirming the man’s true nationality, Ahirudin adds, “This dude later blamed it on the “error” committed by The Star and I’m not surprised. It is always someone else’s fault, never their own stupidity.”
Last we checked, the churches, Buddhist and Hindu temples we have across the country are well in operation and have not been forced to shut down, and Malaysians of all races did gather to support our athletes in the recently concluded SEA Games, sat next to one another (without a care of what faith the other practised), proving we are far from being a Taliban nation and still living in peace with one another.
In fact, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak himself assured all Malaysians yesterday, “The Government will remain committed to upholding true Islamic teachings while protecting the interests of other communities as demanded of Islam,” after the launderette hoo-ha.
Yes, we are a multiracial country with over 60 per cent of Muslims inhabitants and embrace Islam as its official religion. But when it comes to the individuals inhabiting here, just like opinions, we differ from one another (without even bringing religion into the context). Condemning one person, or an act, (and through a comment) just because we think we know better, does not make things better, and does not make any of us better than the other.
So much for blaming the media or the government for inciting hate and propagating religious intolerance amongst one another, when it looks likely that we, ourselves, are guilty of painting a bad picture to the world of the Malaysia we convince ourselves to believe we are living in, as opposed to the Malaysia we really are.
Borrowing the words of Ahirudin, “I hope it sinks in. You see, even if the guy who had slapped the couple was a Malaysian, it would not be fair to put all Malaysians down. And if he was a Malaysian Muslim, he certainly was not representative of Muslims or Malaysian Muslims or Islam. At all.”
Oftentimes in observing our public’s reaction to stories involving Malaysians who have made international headlines, we take cover and are quick to avoid being associated with our country, “Malunya (Utterly embarrassing)” like during the recent SEA Games Indonesia flag gaffe, while some apologise over something just because they feel they need to justify our ‘identity’ to people across the world, “Sorry not all Malaysians are like this.”
But does anyone really care about our remarks and apologies?
What matters is here, in our homeland, and how we are able to keep our harmony together, regardless if any Malaysian made a bad headline somewhere else.
Alas, it is always easier to point the finger at others, like in this case, blame the irrational ‘Muslim man’ involved or The Star for the ‘error’ in reporting the news, nevertheless, what have we done to own up to our mistakes as we continue to judge one another and blame one’s religion or race in our own backyard?
Source: Malaysian Digest