A teenager who turned to police for protection after receiving death threats for "liking" a pro-Israel Facebook post now faces jail time.
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The 17-year-old in the northern state of Penang had "liked" a post that declared "I love Israel" and featured a picture of the Jewish state's flag, Penang police chief Abdul Rahim Hanafi was quoted as saying on Wednesday by Malaysian media, AFP reported Thursday.
According to The Malay Mail Online, the teen's teacher linked an image of his page liking the pro-Israel page and wrote, "My student likes Israel? How shameful for me." Her post triggered immolation threats against the boy, The Malay Mail Online reported, such as one teacher who wrote, "We just burn hahaha."
The student, who feared returning to school, in turn sought police protection. However, the police began investigating him for sedition, which can result in a three-year jail sentence in Malaysia, although they say they are also investigating the death threats against him.
The student, who has not been identified, deactivated his Facebook account. He claimed that he hit the "like" button by accident, according to the police chief.
Meanwhile, the director of the Penang Education Department, Osman Hussain, said Wednesday his department viewed the incident gravely and was considering transferring the teacher to another school.
"Let this also be a warning to all teachers in Penang not to go to Facebook and post rants against their students there," he told The Malay Mail Online. "We are living in Malaysia, so we must have mutual respect for each other despite our differences so the students also should be made aware of this," he said.
Hussain added his department was offering the student counseling because he has been traumatized.
The affair has also sparked criticism against the teacher.
"Using the same twisted logic, all Malaysians using Facebook are also committing sedition as Facebook is founded by a Jew," said one reader posting on popular online news portal Malaysiakini, denouncing such "extremism," AFP reported.
Malaysia has no diplomatic relations with Israel, and the conflict in Gaza has triggered strong reactions among Malay Muslims.
Malaysian NGOs launched on Sunday a month-long peaceful boycott campaign against McDonald's, Starbucks and British bank HSBC to protests Israel's conduct in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge, The Malay Mail Online reported. Organizers are boycotting these three corporate giants because they allegedly "lend their support to Zionist Israel."
“As a rule, we don’t want boycotters to vandalize, hurt the feelings, or do things that will backfire,” Abdullah Zaik Abd Rahman, the chief executive of Pro-Palestine group Aman Palestin, which spearheaded the campaign, told The Malay Mail Online. “Don’t do things that others can use to mock our campaign.”