DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/31 October) — The government of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) has asked GMA 7’s Eat Bulaga to apologize to the Muslim community following the outrage triggered by comedians and Eat Bulaga hosts Senator Tito Sotto and Joey de Leon who came to the noontime show’s Halloween Special dressed up as Muslims.
In a statement issued Saturday night, ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman said the ARMM government “takes offense at and is appalled by the stunt pulled on national TV by noontime show Eat Bulaga on Saturday, October 31 — where hosts Joey de Leon and Sen. Tito Sotto came out dressed as Muslims for their Halloween Special.”
“On behalf of the Filipino Moro people, we demand that producers and hosts of the noontime show issue a public apology,” the governor of the country’s five Moro-dominated provinces, said.
“Disgusting. Disrespectful. Shameful. Racist. Insenstive” are just some of the comments posted by netizens over Sotto’s and De Leon’s wearing a thobe, that ankle-length white long-sleeved garment worn by men, and a keffiyeh or kufiya around their head, at the noontime show’s Halloween party on Saturday.
In the Philippines, Muslims use the thobe during congregation prayers on special occasions like Eid’l Fitr.
“This display betrays an insensitivity by these hosts, as they equated the Muslim garb as a costume to be feared, in the way that zombies and ghouls are to be feared,” Hataman said.
“We remind the hosts and the producers of the show of how Muslims are quite often discriminated against in our society, often stereotyped as troublemakers and terrorists.
What Eat Bulaga did in its Halloween Special was a mockery of and an affront to the image of the Muslim, apparently in the name of entertainment,” Hataman added.
He recalled how they also raised their voices in indignation recently when the National Bureau of Investigation described the suspect in a bombing in Zamboanga as “Muslim-type.”
Reacting to the Eat Bulaga’s Facebook posting of Sotto wearing a thobe with the hashtag “HalloweenPaMore,” Jan Di of Quezon City, the fist to react, wrote: “Anong klaseng senador to (including Joey de leon)??? Fan din ako ng AlDub, but this costume? For Halloween?? Astagfirullah! We, Muslims are not celebrating Halloween and yet, he used this traditional dress (also as prayer dress) as Halloween costume?? So disrespectful!! Senador ka pa man din!”
Nurse Entrep, an Overseas Filipino Worker based in Saudi Arabia asked in Filipino: “First of all, there is no Halloween in Saudi. And since when has a Thobe become a Halloween costume? Our senator should be sensitive in using the thobe.”
Ensyang Marie of General Santos City asked” “Paano naging pang Halloween eto na costume? Nakakatakot po ba eto? (How did this become a Halloween costume? Is this scary?) This one is being used in praying and sinusuot sa special occasion sa Arab countries.”
Ashraf Hasheimi Mastura Muhammad asked: “Kung magsuot kaya ang Senador na kasuotan ng Papa sa isang Halloween party, di ba magtatanong din kayo kung bakit yan ang suot ng Senador? (What if the Senator wears the Pope’s costume during a Halloween party, wouldn’t you ask why the Senator is wearing it?).
“Muslims in the Philippines have long been oppressed. And this one proves that discrimination is still around. Let us be sensitive What may be funny to some could be insulting or hurting to the other. Peace to all,” Muhammad said in Filipino.
Kuwen Naga, an OFW in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, described Sotto as a “racist.”
“You are a public figure that people look up to, and yet you’re implying in the minds of the same innocent people that Muslims are scary.. This is for sure: our community will not vote for you!” he wrote.
GMA-7 or Eat Bulaga has yet to reply to Hataman’s demand for apology. (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)