Yesterday, a teacher from Penang phoned me sounding upset.
Apparently, a couple of Muslim pupils had obtained Deepavali cards to send to their friends and their tuition teacher.
Another teacher, however, found the pupils with the greeting cards. She confiscated the cards and handed them over to the religious teacher.
When the pupils tried to retrieve the cards, they were reimbursed what they had spent on the cards.
The pupils were told that it was against their religion to send such greeting cards as it amounted to celebrating the festival. They were also warned against such practices.
Has it really come to this?
I wasn’t sure quite what to do as the teacher who told me about the incident also requested anonymity and requested that I not mention the name of the school.
So I consulted a trusted friend of mine who happens to be Muslim.
He was horrified that such a thing had happened and told me I should write about it so that the public is aware that some young impressionable pupils are being taught such things by certain overzealous teachers. He felt we had to nip such tendencies in the bud.
I really hope it is an isolated incident. Mind you, such things can happen in any religion when there is a lack of appreciation for ‘The Other’ and religious zealousness is carried a step too far.
It makes me wonder what such teachers think of all those GLCs broadcasting their Deepavali greetings on television.
Perhaps, for the benefit of such teachers, the Education Department or the political leadership would like to clarify what they think of pupils sending festive greeting cards to their friends of other faiths.