Did the Star picture Muslims in prayer as terrorists?

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The biggest selling newspaper in Malaysia, The Star is in trouble with the law for portraying Muslims in prayer as terrorists.

At least this is what the cover of the newspaper’s Saturday edition is telling, according to netizens who blew their temper over the front page picture with the headline: ‘Malaysian terrorist leader’, accompanied with a picture of Malaysian Muslims in the first night prayer of the holy month of Ramadan (See picture above).

The headline and the picture has landed the paper – owned by a ruling coalition component party the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA) – in trouble with the home ministry.

A show cause letter was issued today to the newspaper, summoning the Editor-in-Chief following the edition of the paper that was allegedly insensitive to the feelings of Muslims.

The secretary-general Datuk Seri Alwi Ibrahim said the Ministry was disappointed that the newspaper displayed a photograph of Muslims performing the “terawih” prayers on the eve of Ramadan while the headline read ”Malaysian Terrorist Leader” on its front page.

“We will call the Editor-in-Chief of the newspaper to give an explanation on the link between the photograph and the front page headline,” said Alwi.

He added on Sunday that the ministry will take further action if it is not satisfied with the explanation, and further action could include a show-cause letter.

The paper risks suspension for the incomprehensible news headline on its front page, giving the impression that it was suggesting ‘Muslims as terrorists’.

The Star has since issued an apology, but netizens and political parties with Malay leaning are not satisfied.

The paper stated that it should have been more sensitive to the feelings of its Muslim readers.

“It has been the practice of The Star to respect the first day of Ramadan every year and to place a picture of Muslims at the first tarawih prayer on the front page of the paper. This has been done over the last decade or so.

“This year, there was an unfortunate coincidence of the lead story being of a terrorist leader which led to many linking the headline and the picture, which was never the intention of the newspaper.

“We sincerely apologise for the error of judgment on our part,” it said in a statement yesterday.

However, netizens are saying the headline – which is curiously incomplete and misleading -might have said a lot about the sentiments of the ‘editors’ prior to the publication of the paper.

Netizens are calling for a ban on the paper.