Religious affairs minister says Oktoberfest should not be held openly in M’sia, could ‘compromise safety of community’

Image credit: Astro Awani, Brett Sayles via Pexels

Come every September, Germans living in the city of Munich, Bavaria will convene to celebrate a cultural festival known as the Oktoberfest. Often regarded as the world’s largest Volksfest, which typically incorporates a beer or wine festival with a travelling carnival, the festival is slated to begin sometime in mid- or end-of September, and ends on the first Sunday of October. Since its inception, the festival has also been celebrated on smaller scales across the world, including in Malaysia.

Oktoberfest shouldn’t be held in M’sia, says Religious Affairs Minister 

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad said that the Oktoberfest celebrations should not be held in Malaysia. Image credit: Brett Sayles via Pexels
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad said that the Oktoberfest celebrations should not be held in Malaysia. Image credit: Brett Sayles via Pexels

While that may be the case, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Religious Affairs) Datuk Idris Ahmad has gone on to say that the Oktoberfest cultural festival should not be held as a celebration open to the public in Malaysia. This is despite the fact that Muslims have always been barred from the festival.

Quoting a Parliamentary written reply addressed to DAP National Chairman Lim Guan Eng, Malay Mail reports that Idris said the nature of the festivities could disrupt social harmony, order, and safety within the country.

Festival could lead to social ills

Datuk Idris Ahmad said that the festival could lead to social ills. Image credit: Astro Awani
Datuk Idris Ahmad said that the festival could lead to social ills. Image credit: Astro Awani

He has also reiterates the fact that all parties should abide by the rules stipulated in Malaysia, and respect the nation’s federal religion of Islam.

“With regards to Oktoberfest, all parties should respect the rules and regulations of Malaysia, based on Islam as the religion of the federation.

“Although non-Muslims are not prohibited from drinking alcohol, the Government is of the opinion that this allowing this festival to happen and making it open to the public should not happen as it will cause social problems, as alcohol is seen to affect the harmony, order and safety of the community,” he said.

Pointing to the festival’s cultural practice of alcohol consumption, Idris who hails from the Islamist political party PAS, said that there is a propensity for the Oktoberfest to trigger social ills such as domestic violence, fighting, road accidents, poverty, health issues, and even poor work performance.

On the subject of the Bon Odori festival, which was held this month by the Japanese Embassy, he clarified that the government was not opposed to it. This comes after Idris had previously advised Muslims against participating in the festivities, alleging that the festival contained religious elements that could lead to syirik (polytheism).

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Also read: Selangor Sultan tells JAIS to let Japanese Bon Odori festival proceed, asks officers to join and ‘see for themselves’

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