LAST_UPDATESat, 23 Jun 2018 9pm

Nigerian Expat Said He Was Harassed By M’sian Officers For Being Dark-Skinned

 Pic: Resty Woro Yuniar (Nigerian filmmaker Faisal Ibrahim) Pic: Resty Woro Yuniar (Nigerian filmmaker Faisal Ibrahim)

Racial discrimination is an illness that plagues many countries, and unfortunately, Malaysia is not immune to the disease – despite priding ourselves as a multiracial country.

As reported by South China Morning Post (SCMP), a Nigerian expatriate, Faisal Ibrahim, claims he was harassed by Malaysian police officers whilst he was strolling down the streets of Taman Tun Dr Ismail in November 2017.

“I felt like a criminal even though I had done nothing wrong. I was just walking. I wasn’t even jaywalking. There was nothing,” the 28-year-old conveyed.

“What frustrated me was that it is a very busy road, people were passing and they could see [the cops] patting me down and going through my bags.”

The filmmaker soon mustered up the courage to ask the officers of his ‘crime,’ and although the officers allegedly stated that they were conducting a random check on the expatriate, Ibrahim soon realised that he was discriminated for the colour of his dark skin.

Upon realising that he was not at fault, Ibrahim lodged a police report over the ordeal – which the authorities were initially hesitant to do so, and until this day, Ibrahim has not received any updates concerning his complaint.

Although authorities could not confirm with Malaysian Digest whether the report was made or not, they clarified that police officers have the authority to stop individuals whom they deem as suspicious.

Datuk Dr Denison JayasooriaDatuk Dr Denison Jayasooria

Soon after the incident, Free Malaysia Today (FMT) reported that local sociologist, Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria, criticised Malaysians for exhibiting prejudice towards Africans.

Denison also stressed that Malaysians have failed to comprehend the concept of a unified human identity, and highlighted that the distasteful incident endured by Ibrahim is known as “Dislike For The Other” in sociology.

“The dislike for someone who is different stems from a weak understanding of humanity and of the fact that we are all people,” the University Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) research fellow explained.

Additionally, SCMP theorised that the prejudice towards darker-skinned people may have stemmed from the European colonialism.

The colonialism has subsequently conditioned Asians to deem dark-skinned individuals as ‘lesser than’ due to the fact that dark skin was associated with low socio-economic class and was considered unattractive.

Denison agreed with the report, and elaborated that colonialism promoted the farcical idea of light-skin superiority, and with it other factors that have contributed to the problem.

“A lot of blame also falls on ignorance and lack of exposure,” he pointed out, and added that awareness campaigns are needed to eradicate the issue.

Moreover, Denison urged those who have experienced racial discrimination to lodge a complaint, in hopes that the perpetrators will be punished for their uncivilised demeanour.

On that note, the sociologist suggests for a “good complaints mechanism” to be established, coupled with the enactment of tougher anti-discrimination laws.

And considering the fact that Malaysia is blessed with a multiracial society, it is high time that Malaysians learn to respect one another, regardless the colour of their skin, as the modern world has no space for discrimination of any kind.

- Malaysian Digest