Friday, April 13, 2007

Making interesting headlines

I'm sure that most people would not have noticed this piece of interesting news unless they stalk Reuters like I do daily. The headline reads "Malaysian genie shows barred by Islam, cleric say". I don't know which is more deplorable.

On the one hand, we are painted as a society where the Islamic officials are running rampant and imposing their religious beliefs on others. It quotes the chairman of the National Fatwa Council as saying that they do not want to promote the belief in the supernatural. Hence, they do not want to play them up by having exhibitions on the supernatural. The article further says that our government officials have "already called for a halt to one such exhibition in a state museum." So, we're painted as an intolerant muslim country which does not respect personal freedoms to believe whatever we want.

On the other hand, the article states that "Many Malaysians are willing to suspend disbelief when dealing with the supernatural, and the exhibitions capitalise on the widespread fascination with the ghouls and goblins that populate Malaysia's legends and folklore." It is true that these supernatural creatures are well ingrained in the local Malay culture with stories passed down through the generations. So now, we're painted as half crazy idiot who believe in such superstitious mumbo jumbo.

So, in one go, the article has managed to paint us as an intolerant muslim nation of idiotic half crazy believers of superstitious crap. I don't know which is worse. Either way, it is an interesting headline to make. At least we're not just making headlines with blogger censorship and corruption.

I would hope that the readers of the article don't take it too seriously. We Malaysians just have a very interesting sense of fascination about these things. It certainly doesn't mean that we belief in any of these things. Though they do make nice stories that you can scare little kids with.

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