Malaysia Muslims Want Beer Festival Banned

CAIRO – Aiming to preserve the Islamic identity of the Asian country, leading Malaysian Muslim groups have called for cancelling Oktoberfest beer festival due to be held later this month, saying it hurts Muslims’ religious sentiments.

“What is upsetting and can be assumed rude is that the beer festival  is being organized in the month of Zulhijah, in which Muslims observe the Hajj and Qurban [`Eid Al-Adha],” Rosdi Long, the president of Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor, was quoted by the Malay Mail on Tuesday, October 8.

“We do not have a problem with the program (Oktoberfest) but it should be done by observing the culture and sensitivities of the Muslim-majority.”

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Selangor Muslims leaders have been leading calls by Muslim groups to cancel the beer festival which will be held in Malaysia’s most populated and richest state of Selangor.

Muslims’ Calls to ban the annual festival were heightened after the approval of a billboard that promotes the beer festival in Selangor.

Urging Selangor MB Mentri Besar Azmin Ali to remove the beer billboard, Noh Omar, the chief of the United Malay National Organization (UMNO) said: “When Barisan Nasional (BN) was in power, the state government never allowed alcohol advertisements to be put up freely.

“Is the Selangor government now doing otherwise by permitting and encouraging such advertisements to be publicized on billboards belonging to local authorities?”

Islam takes an uncompromising stand in prohibiting intoxicants.

It forbids Muslims from drinking or even selling alcohol.

The general rule in Islam is that any beverage that get people intoxicated when taken is unlawful, both in small and large quantities, whether it is alcohol, drugs, fermented raisin drink or something else.


Criticizing the beer festival, law experts warned that the celebration breaches “the federal constitution”.

They stressed that “alcohol festivals cannot be organized in open spaces”, adding that it is only allowed for licensed beer selling stores.

“The organizer has to seek for a permit as stipulated under the Peaceful Assembly Act 2012, if they want to proceed with the event in an open area,” Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) law professor Datin Noor Aziah Mohd Awal was quoted by Berita Harian.

“However, in this case permits would not be issued at it (Oktoberfest) violates the Federal Constitution.”

Along with Selangor and Umno leaders, the beer festival has generated harsh opposition from other Muslim groups like Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) and the Pan-Islamic Party (PAS).

The festival “challenges the sensitivities of the Muslim folks,” PAS central committee member Nasrudin Hassan told Daily Express.

“I urged the authorities not to take this phenomenon lightly. Take the necessary action.”

Away from opposing the beer festival, Muslim leaders asserted their support for the rights of non-Muslims to drink wine.

“I do not deny the rights of non-Muslims who are allowed to consume alcohol.

“However, in a country that professes Islam as its national religion, that right should be done privately and neither promoted nor feted any further in this way,” said Nasrudin, who is Temerloh MP.

Five years ago, Mosque officials in Selangor, like imams and muezzins, have been authorized to arrest Muslims drinking alcohol in public.

Malaysia has a population of nearly 26 millions, with Malays, mostly Muslims, making up nearly 60%.



F. Achouri

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