The Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) has welcomed a minister’s recent statement that the government will not allow national schools to be ‘too Islamic’.
But this is only if Education Minister Mahdzir Khalid had meant to say that no particular religion should dominate national schools, CFM said.
It said schools should instead be focused on fostering national integrity and harmony.
“We are indeed heartened by the statement of the minister, if it is taken to mean that national schools should be kept free from the ideological dominance of any particular religion by virtue of the fact that such schools should be committed to the work of building national integrity and harmony.
“Such a goal is most necessary in these times as all Malaysians have to collaborate to combat sectarian strife and militant fundamentalism,” CFM chairperson Reverend Dr Eu Hong Seng said in a statement today.
Eu said such a move would restore the confidence of parents in national schools, and may see the return of children who had been enrolled in private or international schools.
What does ‘too Islamic’ mean?
However, Muslimat PAS has objected to Mahdzir’s remarks, which was carried by news portal Free Malaysia Today on Tuesday.
A day after he made the comments, the chief of the wing’s education bureau, Nurul Faiza Musa, urged the minister not to pander to the demands of “a few quarters”.
She warned that Mahdzir’s comments could pave the way for society’s gradual rejection of Islam, done in a “subtle” manner.
“We urge the education minister to explain what he means by the phrase ‘too Islamic’.
“If it cannot be explained properly, then it will truly show that the minister only wants to appease the non-Muslims, and not protect the religion that he and the rest of the Muslims in this country practice.
“Or is the education minister only concerned about the non-Muslims’ feelings because he does not want BN to lose their votes?” Nurul Faiza asked in a statement.
‘Islamic or not, is not an issue’
She reminded Mahdzir that the Federal Constitution states that Islam is the religion of the federation.
According to Free Malaysia Today, Mahdzir had made the remarks when asked to respond to a news report claiming that non-Muslim parents are unhappy with religious elements in national schools.
But the following day, Mahdzir released a statement saying he only meant the government would not allow schools to become a platform to spread extremist ideologies, such as that of IS.
He said the issue of whether a school is Islamic or not, does not arise.