Suu Kyi Forgives After Fake Photo Depicts Her in Islamic Headscarf

By The Irrawaddy 21 June 2014

RANGOON — Opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi has decided to forgive and forget after the wife of Burma’s presidential spokesman shared a Photoshopped image on Facebook that depicted her in an Islamic headscarf, the presidential spokesman says.

Ye Htut, who is also deputy minister of information, said he personally apologized to Suu Kyi for his wife’s behavior when they met at the Lower House of Parliament on Friday.

“Daw Aung San Suu Kyi said ‘no problem’ when I apologized for her for the Facebook post,” Ye Htut announced in a statement on his own Facebook page later on Friday. “I thank her for her forgiveness and understanding.”

The presidential spokesman’s followers on the social media site left comments, praising him for apologizing and Suu Kyi for letting the issue drop.

The Photoshopped image depicted Suu Kyi wearing an Islamic headscarf and being crowned with a tiara as “Woman of the Week. It criticized her for pushing to amend the Constitution and was shared widely on Facebook, including by the deputy minister’s wife, Khin Sandar Tun, about two weeks ago.

The altered image was particularly sensitive in Burma because the country’s political reforms have been accompanied by rising anti-Islamic sentiment and violence. Ye Htut himself has blamed Facebook users for fanning the flames of interreligious tensions by spreading false rumors and hate speech.

His wife’s post of the altered photo drew much criticism from social media users, prompting Ye Htut to write an apology note on his own Facebook page on June 6.

“There are ethics to using Facebook. We have to take care with the posts that we ‘like’ and share, for there may be hateful posts and defamation. The posts we write on our own should not be those that spread hate speech or personal attacks.

“As a responsible person of the government and as the head of the house, I have the responsibility to teach my family members to behave accordingly, to the standard that the majority of the people are upholding,” he continued.

“Apologies to those who respect and support Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and to those who visit my Facebook for my failure.”