Oktoberfest is acceptable, but not a beer drinking festival — Abdul Karim

The Miri Neon Beer Fest organiser uploaded this picture on Facebook.

By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Oct 15: Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Datuk Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah opined that the Miri Neon Beer Festival should have been themed as ‘Miri Oktoberfest’, to take into account the sensitivity that Muslims are forbidden from consuming alcohol.

On a personal note, he said he had no objection to the holding of Oktoberfest, which originates in Germany and is a cultural and food festival. Just like any other cultural and food festivals in the West, there is bound to be plenty of food, music and drinks.

“Germans are known for their love of beers, and drinking beers are a common sight at all Oktoberfest festivals. But that does not mean that all must drink. Those who don’t drink alcohol can always choose to drink non-alcoholic drinks.

“There should not be any mandatory requirement for one to drink if one wants to enjoy oneself in any Oktoberfest festival,” said Abdul Karim to DayakDaily.

Miri Neon Beer Fest, however, is “a different scenario” altogether as it is a beer drinking festival, he pointed out.

“The organiser should be more sensitive that alcohol is forbidden for Muslims and alcohol is also not encouraged to be consumed, what more to be promoted in a festival.

“It would be appropriate if they had just themed it as ‘Miri Oktoberfest’ instead of ‘Neon Beer Festival’,” he suggested.

Abdul Karim was commenting on the just-concluded four-day Neon Beer Fest in Miri. The organiser claimed on its social media page that the event was targetted at people from outside the resort city.

Sarawak PAS not only issued a statement against the staging of the festival but also was among those who lodged a police report against Muslims attending the gathering.

Abdul Karim said personally he viewed the drinking of alcohol as the personal right of all individuals, but for Muslims, Islam forbids it.

“For non-Muslims, it is up to them whether they want to drink or not, but I believe all religions either bar or discourage their believers from drinking alcohol or drinking it excessively,” he said. — DayakDaily