KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 25 — Several Muslim groups are now training their guns on the coming Halloween festival, warning that the annual event to remember the dead is part of Western culture and could wrongly influence local Muslim youths.
According to a Sinar Harian Online report, banners promoting the October 31 event at a Seremban international school have triggered unease among the Muslim residents in the Negeri Sembilan township.
Ikatan Guru Muslim Malaysia (IGMM) deputy president Mohd Azizee Hassan said that the Halloween celebration is inappropriate as it clashes with Malaysian culture and traditions.
Halloween has its origins in the ancient Celtic festival known as Samhain, and is celebrated every year on October 31, which is the eve of the Western Christian feast All Hallow’s Day or All Saints’ Day.
“I do not support such events because it could dilute the identities of the Muslim students in the said school,” Mohd Azizee was quoted saying in the Malay daily’s report today.
“Although the programme organisers have said that there are no religious elements in the event, it still shouldn’t be so heavily promoted as though we endorse such a festival.
“I worry that if the programme proceeds, it could destroy and threaten the faith of our Muslim students in the school,” he added.
Mohd Azizee also urged the state education department to look into the matter.
Right-wing Muslim group Ikatan Muslimin Malaysia (Isma) has also waded into the issue, urging the state authorities, including the Negeri Sembilan Islamic Religious Council (Mains), to monitor the event.
Sinar Harian Online cited Isma central committee member Mohd Hazizi Ab Rahman as saying that the Halloween event should be canned as it is not Islamic.
The daily also quoted him labelling the organisers bold for openly promoting the event in Bahasa Malaysia.
Malay rights groups like Isma and Perkasa have previously hit out at a number of events that they claimed could possibly ruin Malaysia’s image as an Islamic country and bring ruin to the nation.
One such event is the Oktoberfest beer festival, which was held at a shopping mall car park in Selangor.
Although the event was promoted to non-Muslims, the conservative Muslim groups urged their supporters to rally against the event and venues that serve alcohol as part of the festival.
Last Sunday, a young Malaysian Muslim invited flak when he organised the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event at the Central Park in Bandar Utama, an event he said was merely to offer Malay-Muslims here the opportunity to pet canines, an animal that many in the community regard as culturally taboo.
Muslim leaders from both sides of the political divide have since been up in arms over the event, claiming that it was deviant and could lead Muslims astray from the country’s accepted form of Sunni ideology.
There have since been allegations circulating online claiming that the organiser of the October 19 event, Syed Azmi Alhabshi, is Christian from a so-called Malay church based in Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya who was trying to convert Muslims.
Syed Azmi has received death threats for organising the event — which was approved by the Selangor Islamic Religious Council (MAIS), though the state body later claimed that the organisers had deviated from their proposed objective to enlighten and educate Muslims on the position of dogs in the faith.
Earlier today, Syed Azmi apologised over the furore caused by the event, saying he had not meant to hurt the sensitivities of his fellow Muslims.