The ‘cow-head’ protest was one of the gravest moments in racial and religious relations in Malaysia in recent times.
A severed cow’s head was paraded after Friday prayers in a march protesting the relocation of a Hindu temple from a Muslim-majority residential area to another.
The cow is sacred to Hindus, a minority religion in Malaysia of minority ethnic Indians. It was not a good day to be Malaysian.
It was implausible that a peaceful and diverse population in a suburb not far from the city centre would condone such gross insensitivity.
Two journalists went back to that suburb to interview religious leaders, residents, local politicians and re-examined the facts.
Discussions about the relocation of the said temple, which was more than a century old, had been ongoing for at least two decades. The parties involved had not strayed off course negotiations, but something happened in the negotiations that resulted in that very, very, heated ugly parade.
Was it a mere developmental oversight? A mismanaged relocation? A hijacked negotiation? A blatant abuse of privilege and rights?
Who were these extremists? Were there rational-thinking groups in the residential area?
Viewer discretion advised: Contains disturbing images from the ‘cow-head’ parade.
The Sri Maha Mariamman Temple was relocated successfully to section 23 in Shah Alam, at an alternative site in the same area.
This documentary was screened at the Freedom Film Fest, a human rights documentary film festival that started in 2003 in Malaysia. This year, the Festival will screen award-winning documentaries at selected cities in Malaysia and in Singapore from 6 Sept to 26 Oct.