KUALA LUMPUR, June 24, 2015:

Non-Muslim parents said they would advise their children not to drink or eat in front of their Muslim classmates during Ramadan.

Mother of two Hee Siew Fong said she had explained to her children that eating or drinking near a classmate who was fasting could make them feel hungry.

“I told them to be sensitive as eating near a Muslim classmate would make it more challenging for them to observe the fast, especially when one considers that they are just kids,” she told The Rakyat Post.

Hee said she had come across teachers who were responsive and sensitive in this regard by giving gentle reminders to non-Muslim students.

James Foo, who enrolled his two children in a Malay-medium national school, said he taught his kids to be sensitive in the choice of words as well.

“For example, they should not ask their Muslim classmates and friends if they were really hungry, or encourage them to eat or drink.

“I also advise them to act normally and not ask for permission to eat or drink from their Muslim classmates and friends.”

A Malay parent, Wan Mohd Munim, said it should not be made an issue even if non-Muslims eat in front of Muslims.

He added that fasting was all about discipline and not just about avoiding food or drinks.

Non-Muslims should be able to carry out their day-to-day activities without worry, said the father of three.

“We are a multiracial society which has been living in harmony all these years.

“There should be no need or even instruction for special treatment or sensitivity from non-Muslims while fasting.”

The issue on respecting Muslim students during the fasting month came to light when a letter, dated June 21, was written by a group of parents of non-Muslim students who claimed their children were instructed to drink in the toilet and “drink their own urine” in a school in Sungai Petani, Kedah.

The statement was allegedly made by a teacher in the well-known primary school during an assembly speech the same day.

He had allegedly asked non-Muslim students not to drink in classrooms during Ramadan, but in the toilet, and should there be no water, the students were allegedly told to drink their own urine.

Later, in a statement, Kedah executive councillor in charge of education Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain said the teacher was actually reminding students to seek permission before drinking water outside classrooms when he allegedly joked “don’t drink your own urine”, after telling them they could also consume tap water in the toilets.

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