(Updated) Stop issuing statements that jeopardize country’s religious harmony, Raub MP tells Minister

Guests at the recently held Japanese cultural event, Bon Odori, in Shah Alam. Photo courtesy of Japanese Embassy.

Updating to correct typo in headline.

RAUB, July 31 – Raub Member of Parliament Tengku Zulpuri Shah today took to task the minister in charge of Religious Affairs in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Idris Ahmad, who had issued a statement banning restaurants and bars from participating in the Oktoberfest this year.

Zulpuri said that it was regrettable that the Minister had banned the event claiming that it would cause social problems.

“The minister should focus his duties on the Muslim community and not intervene in the affairs of the non-Muslims such as banning the Oktoberfest,” he said in a statement here today.

“As a Member of Parliament who is of Islamic faith, I agree that Muslims should not take any alcoholic beverages or be involved in any activities that are not allowed in the Islamic religion, but Muslims should not intervene in the cultural, lifestyle and business matters of the non-Muslims.

He said such intervention was not in synch with the teachings of the Islamic faith, and the non-Muslims’ rights to hold legal business activities in the country was guaranteed in the Federal Constitution.

The autumn Oktoberfest that originates in the West is also celebrated by non-Muslims all over the world including in Palestine.

In Malaysia, the Oktoberfest involves the promotion of beer within the premises of non-halal restaurants and bars. 

As the festival does not involve the affairs of the Muslims, the Minister of Religious Affairs should not be issuing any statement regarding the Oktoberfest, Zulpuri said.  

Such a statement from Idris Ahmad, related to the business activities of non-Muslim restaurants, has only served to hurt the image of Islam making it look like a religion that has no tolerance towards the lifestyles of people who subscribe to other religions, he said.

The intolerance portrayed in the statement has also jeopordized the efforts taken by those to raise awareness among non-Muslims on the religion as it has created fear towards the Islamic religion, he said.

Zulpuri also urged Idris Ahmad to stop issuing statements that infringe on the freedom of non-Muslims to hold cultural and business events.

“He has been regularly issuing statements that jeopordise the harmony between the non-Muslims and Muslims in the country ever since he took on the role of the Minister of Religious Affairs.

In June, his call to Muslims not to attend the Bon Odori cultural event organised by the Japanese Embassy received a reprimand from the Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah with the Sultan calling on the minister to attend the Bon Odori to understand the difference between religion and culture.”