LONDON – Guy Fawkes Night or Bonfire Night has always been a night to look up to for a small community of Malaysians living and studying in East Sussex.
But last night, it was something else, a rude awakening for many Malaysians when the downed Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH17 was depicted as part of the parade held in Lewes, a peaceful historical town about 60 kilometres from here.
The Lewes Bonfire Night, the biggest of its kind in the world, witnessed an effigy of a topless Russian President Vladimir Putin, partly in military attire and carrying a rifle, stepping on a crashed MH17.
Raja Imran Raja Azhar, a postgraduate interior design student from the University of Brighton who has been a regular visitor of the event every year, was shocked to see such a despicable act as part of the parade.
â€œWhat sort of relation does this have to do with Guy Fawkes? This is outrageous and, at the same time, unnecessary. It creates anger and a feeling of uneasiness among Malaysians here.
â€œTill today, there is no proof linking Putin to the downing of MH17. It doesnâ€™t only hurt Malaysians because the passengers were from different countries as well. Mind you, they have families,â€ he said when contacted by Bernama here Thursday.
Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine on July 17 as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. The Boeing 777-200 aircraft is believed to have been shot down over the troubled country. The passengers who were killed included 193 Dutch nationals and 44 Malaysians.
Two torched Putin effigies were paraded on Wednesday night, which also saw the burning of effigies of other world leaders and personalities, among them former United States President George Bush; Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg; Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel; President of Syria Bashar Al-Assad.
The late leader of Libya Colonel Muammar Gaddafi; former United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; media mogul Rupert Murdoch; former Al-Qaeda leader the late Osama bin Laden and Pope Francis.
Another Malaysian, Muhammad Nasyâ€™at Ilham Hamdan, a postgraduate student of international marketing at the University of Sussex who appeared to be more understandable, said the event was awesome until the effigy of Putin stepping on MH17 appeared.
â€œTo be honest I did not know what to make of it at that time. I felt angry but understandable at the same time. I know their intentions were to relate what Putin has done to why Guy Fawkes was being prosecuted.
â€œThey think it was Putinâ€™s plot to confuse the Ukrainian rebels to shoot down the plane, thinking that was his plane. I donâ€™t know what to feel. But, at least, they could have left out the Malaysia Airlines name,â€ he said when contacted.
Guy Fawkes Night is a commemoration observed on Nov 5 every year in the United Kingdom celebrating King James I surviving an attempt on his life by the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. A member of the plot, Guy Fawkes, was arrested while guarding the explosives.
People started to light bonfires around London and soon Nov 5 became an annual public day of thanksgiving of the plotâ€™s failure, and people began placing effigies onto bonfires. Eventually, fireworks became part of the parade. â€“ BERNAMA