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08/09/2019 Malaysia (International Christian Concern) – After the education ministry’s announcement that it will introduce Arabic script in the Malay language syllabus for primary school, on August 7, an interfaith group challenged the ministry’s statement that the Malay-Arabic calligraphy of khat is part of Malaysia’s identity, saying there is no historical backing for this claim.

The Malaysian Consultative Council of Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Sikhism and Taoism (MCCBCHST) also said the role of national identity is played by the Malay language, not the Jawi script. It added that Jawi had not been in the mainstream even for the Malays at least for the last few decades.

“Khat is Arabic calligraphy and has never been part of Malaysia’s identity but is an Islamic identity,” it said in a statement. “Khat will have to be taught using the Jawi script. We also know that our national language is Bahasa Melayu and not Jawi, thus it… raises (the) question of motive.”

Tamil and Chinese educationist groups are also lamenting that children are being overburdened having to learn Jawi, while others believe it is a way of Islamizing young minds.

MCCBCHST urged the ministry to postpone the implementation of khat, scheduled for next year, until all concerns raised by stakeholders are addressed.

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