Influencer Triggers Netizens After Attending Ramadan Bazaar

Amid all the commotion over the recent Ah Boys To Men casting, another case of insensitivity towards minority races seems to have slipped by, relatively unnoticed.

This episode started on Sunday (May 28) evening, when Instagram influencer Ellie (@ell4d), decided to document her experience at the Ramadan Bazaar in Geylang.

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In a series on Instagram Stories, Ellie had discouraged her followers from going to the bazaar, complaining that the food was subpar and unsatisfactory. 

Unfortunately, she phrased her sentiments a little crudely.

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Unfortunately for her, Ellie was soon met with a horde of angry netizens, who felt outraged at her caustic remarks. A Twitter battle quickly ensued.

Privileged?

The mob was spearheaded by one Twitter user, Dil (@punkylemon), who spotted the posts on Instagram and responded by calling Ellie a purveyor of Chinese privilege.

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Dil accused Ellie of being insensitive towards something significant to the Muslim community and reminded her that nobody had asked her for her opinions.

In a flurry of subsequent tweets, Dil then dissed the “influencer community” and blasted them for being too self-righteous.

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She quickly gained the support of many Muslims who also felt offended by Ellie’s words.

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An anti-influencer page on Facebook even took things to the next level and started hurling insults at Ellie.

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Apology

To appease Dil and the other people she had offended, Ellie deleted her posts and even apologised for her actions.

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Offensive To Criticise Food?

However, a huge number of netizens failed to see how a bad review of food was so offensive.

Among the group was Xiaxue, who simply cannot seem to resist thwarting anyone accusing others of being insensitive to a minority group.

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Always known for her uncensored views, Xiaxue even called Ellie out for being a coward. She felt that Ellie shouldn’t have apologised when she didn’t do anything wrong.

Xiaxue wasn’t alone in her opinions though, many also shared similar sentiments.

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This sparked a huge debate between the two groups, with both getting increasingly agitated. Dil even tried to explain her point of view to help others see the light.

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Not Racist

Singapore has been embroiled in talk of casual racism for the past few days, so it’s best if we actually define what racism is.

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Racism, in essence, occurs when one discriminates against another person solely based on their race. This includes both verbal, physical and social abuse. Popular examples of racism are the stereotyping of cultures and the belief that some races are better than others. Belittling of other cultures is also a form of racism.

However, in this case, Ellie merely criticised the food that was sold at a public bazaar. It was very likely that she meant no offence to the Muslim community at all.

From her point of view, she was probably just pointing out to her followers that the food in the bazaar was lacklustre. Since she was not intending to put down Muslims in any way, there wasn’t any act of racism involved — so let’s put the “R” word to rest for now.

Moreover, Elle apologised almost right away.

Tactless

However, that being said, she probably could have more moderate words instead of saying that the food “sucked balls”.

She should have considered the cultural context of this bazaar — it’s not just some pasar malam or hipster market like Artbox, but it’s special to those overserving Ramadan, and that their feelings might have been hurt by such comments.

In Singapore, we enjoy relative racial harmony, but it is not by chance. A lot of hard work and dedication has gone into making sure that people of different races put aside any perceived differences and work together for the good of the country.

It’s good to engage in progressive conversations about race and religion, but only if the issues you’re talking about are really due to race.

This could have become a good discussion on Chinese privilege, sensitivity towards other cultures and the mindlessness of conspicuous consumption, but it devolved into online mud-slinging instead — again.

It’s unwise to blindly start displaying strong emotions over topics that none of us can really comprehend, as invalid allegations just cause strife between Singaporeans and increase the divide between the races.

Eh?

But wait, it’s not over yet.

The whole issue was made moot when Dil took to Twitter again and dropped the bombshell:

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Oh wait, never mind, she used the tag “s/” at the end — it’s popularly used over the Internet to tell people that what they posted was sarcasm.

So it’s an answer to the negative things people have said about her recently? Oh, we’ll never know.

Maybe instead of focusing on whether the food at the bazaar is delicious or not, perhaps netizens should focus their attention on how half the stalls that sell food at the Ramadan bazaar aren’t even halal.

Featured images adapted from Twitter and Instagram