The Star: Islamophobic Juxtaposition

Dear The Star,

We object to the repeated egregious attempts of your media outlets to imply that underage marriage is somehow a problem pertaining solely to Muslims by your use of a cover photo of a Muslim girl playing with her toys.

This is not the first time this has happened. In fact, this letter is the same exact letter sent to you in 2018 as you were using the same photo to accompany your reports.



Cease Muslim stereotyping in child marriage issue

We would have to question the intentions of your media outlets about this recurring offence. In the current global atmosphere where Islam and Muslims seem to be “fair game” for racist attitudes, one would have to question why our local Malaysian media seem intent on pouring oil onto the fire.

Let’s remind you of several reports highlighting the overemphasising of the media on the hijab (including praying attire) being a negative representation of the female Muslim, veiled women have borne the brunt of Islamophobia, especially among the Muslims minorities abroad.

Back to the current issue of child marriages, The Star should use appropriate graphic to depict the actual reports that there are more child marriages which occur in the non-Muslim population of Malaysia by taking into account the differences in proportion of ethnicities.

The 2017 census showed 52.5 percent were from the non-Muslim community as opposed to 877 cases or 47.5 percent were from the Muslim community.

Child marriages are strongly correlated with poverty and the level of education. It happens in any society where there is an imbalance of wealth distribution and children as the weakest fragment amongst the society are normally the victims.

WAFIQ supports measures to stop forced or early marriages that are potentially harmful to either very young brides or grooms (young adolescents), physically or socially.

We condemn cases where girls are forced to marry much older men where they are treated as objects or commodities as families try to escape poverty.

We urge media outlets to cease this malicious stereotyping of Muslims and to check their own biases in favour of more impartial and fair reporting to ensure we focus on the real problems instead of becoming distracted by unwarranted prejudices.

Associate Professor Dr Rafidah Hanim Mokhtar
Malaysian Alliance of Civil Society Organisations in the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) Process (MACSA)
International Women’s Alliance For Family and Quality Education (Wafiq)

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