October 7, 2022

Oktoberfest is back. But religious politicians in this country want it banned

3 min read


(CNN) — The world’s biggest beer festival after all behind After a two-year dry spell but politicians in One country is still against the celebration’s return — and it’s not because of him. A global pandemic.
“Although non-Muslims are not prohibited from drinking alcohol, (Malaysians) Government They are of the opinion that the festival should not be allowed to take place and open to the public because it will create social problems,” said Religious Affairs Minister Idris Ahmad, who is also a member of the conservative Islamist party PAS. said in a written parliamentary statement.

Although he clarified that his comments were about Muslims and that non-Muslims were still free to drink alcohol, he claimed that beer, traditionally consumed in large quantities at Oktoberfest celebrations, was only causes “social problems”.

“Alcohol appears to affect community harmony, order and safety,” he said.

“Regarding Oktoberfest, all parties must respect Malaysia’s rules and regulations based on Islam as the religion of the federation.”

‘Not just beer chugging’

Originating in Munich, Germany, and held annually between September and October, Oktoberfest celebrates and promotes local Bavarian culture.

Beer is widely consumed during festivals and traditional German foods such as bratwurst (pork) and sauerkraut are served.

The festival is also celebrated in other parts of the world, including Palestine and parts of the Middle East in countries with large Muslim populations.

But it remains an annual debate in Malaysia. A Muslim-majority country, Malaysia has a moderate form of Sunni. Islam But conservative attitudes have grown in recent years. About 63.5 percent of the population of 32 million are Muslims.

Religious groups such as PAS have continued to oppose the promotion and holding of Oktoberfest celebrations in the country, saying the Bavarian festival offends “Muslim sensibilities” due to alcohol and other non-halal offerings. In 2017, a local politician took things a step further by smashing crates of beer in front of a government building in protest.

Previous celebrations were banned after some public complaints, but Oktoberfest has been celebrated in Malaysia since the 1970s. In the capital Kuala Lumpur, bars and local breweries are gearing up for the festivities.

But Oktoberfest gatherings have been the largest and liveliest in Penang, a highly diverse state that is also home to large international communities.

Organizers of the Malaysian German Society in Penang told CNN that their Oktoberfest celebrations will take place on October 21 this year. As in Germany, local festivals were canceled for the past two years due to the pandemic.

“There is no apparent threat to Oktoberfest celebrations within the German community in Penang,” the group said. “The local German community wishes to continue Oktoberfest celebrations. However, in recent years, some religious groups have mistaken Oktoberfest as simply a wild beer party and want to see it banned.”

“This festival is not just about beer chugging but also a festival of joy,” he added.

“If these groups succeed, the continuation of the fair will be in jeopardy.”

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur Malaysia.

Ian Teh/Bloomberg/Getty Images

The opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) denied recent ministerial comments calling for a ban on Oktoberfest.

“Oktoberfest has been celebrated in Malaysia for more than 50 years and has yet to cause any racial or religious tension in the community — yet, fear of the event remains,” DAP said in a statement. said he was “not surprised” by the recent complaints.

“As a multicultural and diverse nation, our tolerance and respect for each other should be the way forward for Malaysia socially and economically. These are indeed difficult times for us and it is sad that PAS has banned Oktoberfest. have chosen to focus their attention on. when there are clearly far more important issues at hand.”

Festival goers are already looking forward to next month’s Oktoberfest celebrations.

Aneesa Ahmad, a marketing executive working in Kuala Lumpur, has been attending Oktoberfest events at various pubs in the city. Along with St. Patrick’s Day drinking sessions, he has also enjoyed Oktoberfest for its color and liveliness.

“It’s another opportunity for Malaysians to spend time together and just enjoy good food and drinks,” he said.

“But it’s a shame that an innocent event like Oktoberfest has to be politicized like everything else, which is frankly ridiculous. But hey, that means more beer for those of us who complain. Not coming to do it.”



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