Current Affairs

Stop turning ‘Oktoberfest’ into a sensitive issue

oktoberfest-logoAs the ‘Oktoberfest’ festival has been heavily criticised by various quarters deeming it as offensive to muslims, DAP Selangor has asked these parties to exercise calm and to be rational in the discourse.

Oktoberfest, organized by Carlsberg nationwide has spawned opposition from ISMA and some PAS leaders originating from the calls to remove a billboard promoting the festival.

The festival originates from Germany and has been popularized around the world including Kuala Lumpur and the Klang Valley.

Selangor leaders such as Shah Alam MP Khalid Samad and Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua have publicly stated the rights of non-muslims to organize and celebrate the drinking festival. However the Shah Alam city council has been successful in banning the billboard.

Tony Pua said that the Oktoberfest does not intend to involve participants who are Muslim , therefore it should not affect the sensitivities of Muslim here.

He pointed out that it has been a tradition for some Non-Muslims to consume alcohol during celebrations of parties or occasions – this is not a shocking revelation. Pua said that this right is granted to them by law.

“We ask that the political parties who have reacted in a brash manner, who take aim at the Oktoberfest not act emotionally and irrationally,” he said, adding that the festival was an outlet for companies to promote their alcoholic beverages.

“The festival has been celebrated for 5 years in a row and has not negatively affected Malaysians anywhere,” said the Petaling Jaya Utara MP.

Khalid Samad who recently spoke in favour of the right that non-muslims have to organize and attend the celebrations received criticism from his fellow PAS leaders such as Temerloh MP Nasruddin Hassan who demanded that Malaysia was an Islamic country and that drinking festivals should be carried out “behind closed doors”.

Others in PAS, such as Kedah PAS Youth information chief Ahmad Tarmizi Sulaiman opined that “there is no scripture (in Islam) stating that the drinking of alcohol should be celebrated”.

PERKASA’s Irwan Fahmi Ideris was taken aback by Khalid Samad’s statements, asking how could a leader from an Islamic party could say such things.

Irwan said that he feared Khalid’s statements would make others think of Malaysia as a liberal Islamic nation.

Tony Pua believes that the furious reaction to Oktoberfest has set the stage for intolerance amongst the rakyat in multicultural multiethnic Malaysia. “It turns issues which are not sensitive into sensitive issues,” he said.

Despite the controversy, Pua wished those celebrating Oktoberfest warm greetings while reminding them to obey the law to ensure public safety. “Drink responsibly. Don’t drink and drive.” -The Rocket

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