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Malaysian university apologises for ‘insensitive’ religion module slideshow

A university in Malaysia has come under fire after it emerged that one of its modules was propagating misleading information regarding Hinduism and Sikhism.

Photos of presentation slides from the Islamic and Asian Civilisation Studies (TITAS) module taught at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) went viral on social media on Monday, featuring various erroneous statements about the two religions.


The offending slides, written in Bahasa Malaysia. Image via Facebook.

For example, one slide claimed that Hindus considered dirt on the body as part of their religious practice to achieve nirvana, and that Islam had introduced the concepts of cleanliness and civility to them.

Another slide asserted that Sikhism was actually a blend of Islam and Hinduism, and was established because its “founder” Kabir did not fully understand Islam and was influenced by the surrounding Hindu community.

The matter was brought to light when a student at the university posted the photos to Facebook, where it quickly spread and caused uproar among the public.

Deputy Minister of Education P. Kamalanathan soon picked up the issue, demanding the university take action and apologize for the gaffe.

On Tuesday, UTM’s vice chancellor Wahid Omar issued an official apology on behalf of the university, expressing the “utmost regret and deep remorse for the lack of sensitivity on the part of our lecturers teaching the TITAS subject”.

Regarding the slides, he added: “The language used in the slides does not reflect the true content of the subject matter in question, and the slides used were not the Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) slides endorsed by the Ministry of Higher Education for the TITAS subject.”

Wahid also said that a thorough investigation into the incident was being conducted, and changes will be made to the presentation slides used for teaching.

The TITAS module has been a mandatory module for all tertiary students regardless of religion since 2013, but its syllabus has been criticized for not being accurate or objective.

There have been calls from members of the public to fire the person who made the slides, and several police reports have already been lodged.

This article first appeared on Asian Correspondent.

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