Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Star newspaper suspends 2 editors

The Star has suspended two editors in connection with the publication of a photograph showing American singer Erykah Badu with body art with the word Allah in Arabic.

Star2 senior editor Lim Cheng Hoe and deputy editor Daryl Goh (who are both Non Muslims and cannot understand the word "Allah" in Arabic), and who had approved the use of the photo in Monday’s 27 February 2012 edition of Star2, have been suspended with immediate effect and indefinitely. ( i do hope they are fired to ensure such things never happened again in a sensitive and complex nation like Malaysia).

At the same time, two associate editors, Rozaid Abdul Rahman and Shah A. Dadameah, have assumed extra duties of overseeing and guiding the newspaper on issues pertaining to Muslim sensitivities.

For the record, the Star was under-fire last August 2011 for including a "haram" food menu in their Ramadhan delights edition.

No Malice intened.

Meanwhile The Star issued this apology.

IT is not easy to govern a country that is as complex as ours and we appreciate that from the time of Merdeka, our leaders have taken a moderate line in grappling with sensitive issues, especially with regard to race and religion.

The media, likewise, also knows its role and place in handling such issues. And The Star is proud to say that in the 40 years of our existence, we have always placed national interests before any other.

Admittedly, we have slipped up and made mistakes. But then again, no person or organisation is perfect. We often assume that because the many different communities of various ethnicities have lived side by side for so long, we should all be intimately familiar with all aspects of every race, religion and culture in this country.

In large part we do know. But mistakes can happen out of carelessness, thoughtlessness, plain silliness or, as in the case of the photo of American singer Erykah Badu's body art with the word Allah in Arabic, ignorance.

All our editors regardless of race and belief know that they must never use any image of the Prophet Muhammad or any photo showing the text of the Holy Quran. And we get plenty of such images from our foreign wire services.

Normally, if our editors come across any photos with words or text in a script or alphabet they are not familiar with and it can be in Urdu, Dutch, Chinese and of course Arabic they will find out what the words mean because we will not use photos containing anything that is offensive.

Which is also why we never publish gory photos of accidents or crime scenes.

Unfortunately, the editors who used the Badu photograph are non-Muslims and they did not recognise the word “Allah” in Arabic.

Ignorance may not be a good excuse but this is the real story behind the mistake. We wish to reiterate that it was made with no ill intention or malice.

We immediately acted to purge the photograph from our website and archives. We also published an apology online and on Twitter on Monday and in the newspaper the next day.

Today, we once again apologise to all Muslims for the mistake and assure them that there was absolutely no niat jahat.

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