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Malaysian television station 8TV has withdrawn a series of public service announcements that instruct non-Muslims how to behave during the Islamic month of Ramadan.
About 60 percent of Malaysians profess Islam.
The local broadcaster “ran a trio of 30-seconds clips in the first week of Ramadan aimed at instructing its non-Muslim ethnic minorities about the etiquette of proper conduct appropriate to this Islamic holy month,” reports the British newspaper the Guardian.
“The advertisements feature a young Chinese woman behaving greedily, obnoxiously and wearing tight clothings at a Ramadan bazaar to the chagrin of the Muslim Malays around her,” writes Guardian staffer Nazry Bahrawi. “Rightly so, the racist undertone has caused a public uproar as multitudes registered their displeasure on the station’s official Facebook page.
“While the station retracted the advertisements within 48 hours of first screening them and issued a public apology, this episode is telling of the dominant interpretation among members of the Malay bourgeoisie there about the value of Ramadan,” writes Bahrawi. “Ending each advertisement is a condescendingly moralizing message that puts the onus of betterment on the culturally ‘other’ when the focus should be an improvement of the self.
“In one, non-Muslims are explicitly told: “Do not be loud or obnoxious.”
“In another, it was: “Do not be greedy and eat in public.”
“More than spell out the exclusive nature of Islam, the advertisements are revelatory of the inability of Malaysia’s ultra-Malay elites to overcome ethnic tensions with the minority Chinese,” writes Bahrawi. “Ramadan or not, the advertisements suggest that their rose-tinted view of Malaysia is one colored by race-tinted glasses.”