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Catholic church concerned over MOE’s support for Palestine Solidarity Week

28 October 2023

By Wartawan Nabalu News

KOTA KINABALU: The Catholic Church in Malaysia has expressed deep concern regarding the organisation of Minggu Solidariti Palestine (Palestine Solidarity Week) in schools.

The circular issued by the Ministry of Education, (MOE) dated October 21, 2023, instructs schools to hold this event from October 29 to November 3, 2023, in support of the Palestinians in Gaza.

In a statement by Archbishop Simon Poh, President the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Malaysia, children and students in schools are minors who should not be involved in such political controversies.

The church raises concerns about the potential rise of anti-Jewish sentiment due to the instruction for students to support Palestine against Israel, as some teachers may inadvertently promote such views.

According to him, disturbing videos have emerged, showing school teachers carrying toy guns and encouraging students to step on a flag labeled as the enemies. The Catholic Church finds these expressions of solidarity, coupled with the introduction of violence and weaponry to children, deeply troubling.

Since Malaysia's formation in 1963, the education system has been dedicated to fostering harmony, respect for diverse faiths and cultures, and working towards a prosperous and harmonious nation. This commitment is enshrined in the 1970 Rukun Negara, which aims to build unity and harmony for the stability and prosperity of Malaysia, he stated.

“Malaysians in general are considered as generous in giving aids and donations to alleviate suffering, especially for innocent victims and communities affected by wars or natural disasters.

"Such kindness is commendable; however, it is always inappropriate to encourage children to use violence or to vent their anger against those whom adults labelled as the enemy,” he shared

adding that what is even more terrifying is that while world rulers are trying to resolve the conflict, such violence can be brought right

into the classrooms and imprinted onto the innocent hearts of our young children.

Guns and school should never mix together.

“The videos that are currently circulating in social media showed how children, even from a very tender age, can easily be manipulated by adults as they learn how to hate and show aggression towards anyone whom adults labelled as the enemy.”

“Let us be reminded that schools are set up for education and not for learning to hate others.

The priority of education is to equip students for life and to have good moral values and civic mindedness.

Schools are the forum where children form friendship and are educated to be good citizens to build harmony and progress for our nation Malaysia.”

In Malaysia, where diverse racial, cultural, and religious communities coexist throughout Sarawak, Sabah, and Semenanjung, energy should be directed towards economic recovery, job creation, and fostering better understanding and harmony among all Malaysians.

While Malaysians are known for their generosity in providing aid and donations to those affected by wars or natural disasters, it is inappropriate to encourage children to resort to violence or express anger towards those labeled as enemies. Moreover, such acts of violence occurring within classrooms can leave a lasting impact on the innocent hearts of young children.

The Catholic Church emphasises that guns and schools should never mix.

The circulating videos on social media highlight how easily children, even at a tender age, can be manipulated by adults, learning to hate and show aggression towards those labeled as enemies.

Schools should be places of education, not platforms for promoting hatred towards others. The primary focus of education should be equipping students with life skills, nurturing good moral values, and fostering civic mindedness.

The Catholic Church commends the prudence of Sarawak's ministers, who have chosen not to follow the Ministry of Education's directives, to avoid stirring up further controversy. Instead, they stand in solidarity, praying for peace in Palestine.

“I appeal to our Malaysian spiritual and political leaders to ensure that our respective houses of worship and schools promote peace and harmony. Let us implore God to touch the hearts of world leaders and pray for peace in Palestine, Ukraine and throughout the world.

"On behalf of the Catholic Bishops in Malaysia, the church appeals to spiritual and political leaders to ensure that places of worship and schools promote peace and harmony. Let us implore God to touch the hearts of world leaders and pray for peace in Palestine, Ukraine, and throughout the world,” the archbishop stated.

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