Selangor Sultan summons PAS chief over Bon Odori statement

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Selangor PAS chief Ahmad Yunus Hairi was summoned to the state palace today, days after insisting Muslims should avoid the Japanese Bon Odori festival next month.

His remarks came after Selangor ruler, Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah, said Muslims should attend the cultural festival that has been held for nearly 30 years in the state, which is home to many Japanese factories in Malaysia.

Without much elaboration, the Selangor royal office in a statement on Facebook said the meeting at Istana Bukit Kayangan lasted around an hour.

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Sultan Sharafuddin had directed the state Islamic Religious Department (Jais) not to disrupt the Bon Odori festival scheduled to take place next month.

The Bon Odori festival became controversial after religious affairs minister Idris Ahmad discouraged Muslims from participating in the annual event, which he claimed is “influenced by elements of other religions” according to research by the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim).

The festival, which will take place on July 16 at Shah Alam Sports Complex, has been held for 40 years as a social event for the Japanese community and companies to foster goodwill.

In a statement last week, Sultan Sharafuddin, who visited the event in 2016 with the then-Japanese ambassador to Malaysia, said he found that the celebrations did not include any religious components or rites.

He also suggested to the religious minister to attend the event himself and differentiate between culture and religion.

The ruler said all cultures have some sort of religious connection.

“However, as time passed, these cultural traditions lost their religious overtones,” he said.

The Bon Odori festival, according to Sultan Sharafuddin, is a cultural event that was being held in Selangor to build relations between Malaysians and the Japanese community in the country. – TMI