Monday, Oct 20, 2014

MH17 tragedy: Anti-Russia sentiment running deep in Malaysia

A monk prays during a special prayer for the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Malaysia on Sunday. (Source: AP) A monk prays during a special prayer for the victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Malaysia on Sunday. (Source: AP)
AP | Kuala Lumpur (malaysia) | Posted: July 20, 2014 7:11 pm

Many Malaysians are urging their government and world leaders to take a tough stance against Russia after pro-Russia rebels allegedly shot down a Malaysia Airlines jet, with some calling for economic sanctions and a boycott of Russian goods.

While the rebels and Ukraine blame each other for Thursday’s downing of Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, near the Russian border, Russia’s government is being accused of not doing enough to ensure that authorities have proper access to the crash site.

But as Malaysians continue to express their anger toward Russia and the separatists _ who have been blamed for shooting down the plane by much of the international community, including the United States _ analysts say it’s too early to point fingers.

Much of the Malaysian anger toward Russia stems from the inability for family members of Muslims who were aboard the plane to perform burial rites as quickly as possible, according to Islamic custom. Of the 298 people aboard the plane, 43 were from Muslim-majority Malaysia and 12 were from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country.

The plane crashed in rebel-held territory, and the separatists have been accused of preventing emergency workers from retrieving the victims’ bodies.

The issue has caused deep resentment in Malaysia, where many have blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin. Even politicians, who on Friday were careful not to point any fingers, seem to be losing patience.

“Pro-Russian terrorists have not handled (hash)MH17 victims with dignity. Putin promised PM (at)NajibRazak he would help. He hasn’t,” Malaysian Youth and Sport Minister Khairy Jamaluddin tweeted Sunday, referring to Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak.

As people headed to Kuala Lumpur shopping malls on Sunday, their minds were still reeling from the horrific images of the crash site that have inundated television screens here. Many were calling for tough economic sanctions and an international boycott of Russian goods and services.

“Our government and the whole world have to do something about this case,” said 27-year-old Nur Zehan Abu Bakar, who works in the education sector. “If not, what will happen to our country? What will happen to (Malaysia Airlines)? To show that we are angry with Russia and if they still continue not to help us, I think the best way is for all Malaysians to boycott Russian products.”

Charles Foo, a retiree who was spending time with his family outside a mall, echoed Nur Zehan’s sentiments. “They (Russia) are a big country. We are a very small country, so how much can we do, unless all nations in the world stop buying their goods and whatever,” he said.

Malaysia is one continued…

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