PETALING JAYA - German-style merrymaking with steins of foaming beer in Malaysia has fallen foul of some Muslim politicians and non-governmental organisations, who are demanding that an Oktoberfest event this weekend at a Selangor shopping mall be relocated or banned.
They have criticised the festival for promoting vice and ignoring Muslim sensitivities.
Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) MP Nasrudin Hasan was among those who called on the federal and Selangor state Muslim authorities to put a stop to the festival.
"The beer festival which is being promoted everywhere has become a public vice even if it is held in a closed setting. It threatens Muslim sensitivities," online news website Malaysian Insider quoted Mr Nasrudin as saying in his Facebook post on Monday.
"It is the same as mass-promoted adultery. It is a public vice and it is the duty of the Muslim authorities and other Muslims to rise up against it."
Selangor PAS' Zaidy Abdul Talib, who is state executive committee member for the Infrastructure, Public Amenities and Agriculture portfolio, also charged that the event was disrespectful to the religious and cultural sensitivities of Muslims and goes "against societal norms".
Protesters claimed that promotional billboards have been put up and approved by the Shah Alam Municipal Council (MBSA) in Muslim-majority areas.
"We do not have a problem with the programme (Oktoberfest), but it should be done by observing the culture and sensitivities of the Muslim majority," the president of Ikatan Kebajikan dan Dakwah Selangor, Mr Rosdi Long, was quoted as saying.
MBSA has denied the charge, claiming in a report in Malay daily Sinar Harian that organisers had put up the billboards without approval.
The controversy has piled pressure on the Selangor state government, which is run by opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat.
The state government has just emerged from a messy and damaging saga over its choice of a new menteri besar, with PAS at loggerheads with alliance partners Parti Keadilan Rakyat and the Democratic Action Party (DAP).
"When Barisan Nasional was in power, such advertisement was not allowed, but the current Selangor government has allowed such billboards to stand tall," said Selangor Umno liaison chairman Noh Omar. "How can this happen... the new Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali must be aware of what is happening right in front of his eyes."
DAP MP Tony Pua, however, defended the "small" event "used by alcoholic beverage companies to promote their drinks".
He stressed that it was strictly targeted at non-Muslims.