KUALA LUMPUR (AFP) – Malaysia has canned an annual craft beer festival after an Islamist party warned it would turn the city into “the biggest centre of vice in Asia”.
Drinking alcohol is common among the large ethnic minorities in Muslim-majority Malaysia but there have been a growing number of protests against activities and events seen as un-Islamic by politicians and hardliners.
The Better Beer Festival, billed as Malaysia’s biggest craft beer festival, was due to take place on October 6 and 7 at a shopping mall on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur.
But last week the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), which often protests events seen as against Islam, warned the event could lead to criminal acts, free sex and rape.
“We can’t bear it if Kuala Lumpur is known by the world as the biggest centre of vice in Asia,” PAS central committee member Riduan Mohd Nor was cited as saying in the Malay Mail Online.
“It is something that is shameful for an Islamic country like Malaysia.”
The organisers Monday announced “with disappointment” that the festival would not go ahead after city officials instructed them to cancel it due to licensing issues and “the political sensitivity surrounding the event”.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall confirmed the cancellation and said legal action could be taken if it went ahead.
It was the latest sign of creeping conservatism in Malaysia, where critics say increasingly vocal Islamic hardliners and politicians are eroding a traditionally moderate brand of the religion.
About 60 percent of Malaysia’s more than 30 million inhabitants are Muslim, and the country is also home to substantial ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities.