04 August 2011

The Ugly Muslim: Racist ads dishonour Ramadan, not just the Chinese

Wednesday, 03 August 2011 08:46
Written by Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Malaysia Chronicle

Media Prima Bhd was forced to axe a controversial series of Ramadan commercials on its 8TV channel following heavy public criticism and claims that the advertisements were racist in nature.
Media Prima chief operating officer Ahmad Izham Omar announced the decision after coming under heavy fire from the public. He also tried to deflect criticism by asking people to “chill” and not to “overanalyse” the commercial, which advises non-Muslims how to behave during Ramadan.

Released as a public service announcement on 8TV, the three commercials depict a socially-inept “Chinese” girl eating in public, wearing revealing clothing and being loud and obnoxious during the Muslim fasting month.

The advertisements then suggest that non-Muslims refrain from such behaviour while in public, urging them to “please understand and respect the significance of Ramadan”.

What went through the head of Media Prima when they decided to produce and air the Ramadan ads is beyond everyone’s imagination. Criticized for being totally tasteless and insulting, the public looked on in disbelief at such an insensitive piece of advertising. And then to ask the public to "chill" and not overanalyze", Ahmad shows he is not a fit corporate captain, he should be sacked immediately.

One wonders how such a piece of crap could escape the censors of Media Prima’s editorial team? The question begs, were they playing the role of someone's political poodle? Media Prima should be more sensitive and do their homework before considering airing such a controversial ad. Not only is it a gross insult to the Chinese but it is also a gross disservice to Muslims in this country.

Weak Muslim community unable to resist temptation
Such tasteless ads seek to portray a weak Muslim community unable to resist temptation, and resorting to implore others to respect their sensitivities during the Holy Month. Ramadan is our holy month, not theirs. Asking them to observe our fasting tradition and be sensitive is not going to work. They will not comprehend and we have no right to impose on them.

Just like us, non-Muslims will not understand and do not have to try to understand. Muslims too will not try to understand why the non-Muslims believe in what they believe. If anything, we should chide our fellow Muslims instead to observe our own sensitivities, as they should as good and sincere Muslims who gain God's favour on their own merit. But please leave the innocent non-Muslims alone.

We must take into consideration that the Chinese Buddhists, the Indian Hinduists and the Christians fast as well, during their holy days or special occasions, but not once have they asked us to be considerate for their sake. They set up their own chain of vegetarian eateries, they make do and often go hungry when they attend functions organised by Muslims who think nothing of serving huge chunky beef curry to the Hindus and the Buddghists. How sensitive is this?

So, eating a cheese burger with beef maybe an insult to the Hindus, but they show fortitude. What if the Chinese or Indians start to air such tasteless ads asking the Muslims to be sensitive towards their religious ceremonies and beliefs? I am deeply shocked that some Muslims are prepared to start World War 3 over such a silly issue that only shows up their own weaknesses.

True Muslims don't need others to practise their faith for them
Malaysians live in a great country, multicultural and multiracial and all of us have to learn to live together in peace and harmony, and not try to infringe on basic human rights. For that matter Muslims should not demand that others must honour their beliefs. For sure the true Muslims are not petty about such displays of insensitivity during the Holy Month, but then there are clowns everywhere and ever ready to impose their warped beliefs on others.

If Muslims want their non-Muslim brethren to respect them, they should first give the other faiths their respect. There are no two ways about it.

But then 8TV is not immune to such controversies as prior to that, 8TV was fined RM50,000 by the Malaysia Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) for airing an advertisement by Danish beer-maker Carlsberg during the Euro 3 Comments.

The outpouring of criticism by the public has been tremendous with some calling us small-minded and holier-than-thou hypocrites and deflecting attention to other sins affecting Muslims in this country. Can we really blame them for their outburst if we continue to be insensitive to them?

Others call the Ramadan Ads stupid and inappropriate for insulting their intelligence, as being inconsiderate and an embarrassment to the Malay Muslims. They also directed their anger at Media Prima calling them shameless and brainless, retards and imbeciles for coming up with such a silly concept.

Election ploy or not, it dishonours Ramadan
Some even think its a BN election ploy to create disharmony. Media Prima’s stereotyping of Chinese women is also in bad taste with some questioning whether the actress was a Chinese or a lookalike. The advert also portrayed the Chinese as greedy, uncouth, insensitive, rude and inflexible.

While others have questioned whether Muslims were fasting or feasting with the lavish spreads offered by the hotels and fine restaurants, when Ramadan is actually a time to reflect on the less fortunate? Some have even asked for a boycott of TV8.

One Muslim felt that it was deeply unjustified and irrational to send such a message to our fellow citizens of other ethnicities and creeds. How can we persistently ill-treat others and expect to have their affections or respect in return? Media Prima owes all Malaysians an unreserved public apology for belittling the Chinese and for offending Muslim sensitivities.


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It is refreshing, comforting and encouraging to read this article written by a Malaysian Muslim.

There is no denying that Malaysia is truly a multi-racial and multi-religious country, drawing its strength and uniqueness from this heritage. It is critical that today, with Malaysia turning 54 this year, all Malaysians learn to respect each other and live together in harmony. Does any Malaysian not wish for peace in our daily lives, and economic prosperity where each one of us can honestly earn our living without fear of oppression or corruption?

Let us have our nasi lemak for breakfast, banana leaf rice with myriad curries for lunch and chicken rice for dinner. Then let's sup together with ABC, chendol, nyonya kueh, ice creams and kopi-o.

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