PETALING JAYA: A Sabah minister has appealed for calm among members of the state’s Kadazandusun Murut community over the controversial “Islamic” celebration of an indigenous harvest festival.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun told FMT that he had spoken to the organiser of the “Kaamatan Islamik” event.
The event organiser is Hidayah Center Foundation (HCF) Sabah, a Muslim NGO. Kaamatan is a Kadazandusun harvest festival where the indigenous people give thanks to their gods for a bountiful harvest.
Masidi said HCF’s intentions were noble as it wanted to remind converts not to forget their culture just because they had embraced Islam.
“I conveyed to the organiser our concern with the use of the term ‘Islamic’ as it could create a wrong impression that Kaamatan is non-inclusive of non-Muslims.
“Kaamatan should be celebrated by everyone. How it is celebrated is up to each individual organiser.”
He added that the organiser had agreed to drop the term “Islamic”.
Over the weekend, pictures of the event made the rounds on social media, showing a group of women wearing the traditional Kadazandusun costume with their heads and arms fully covered.
Social media users in Sabah were dismayed, pointing out that Kaamatan is a cultural event that has nothing to do with religion.
Earlier today, Malay Mail Online reported HCF Sabah as saying that it wanted to celebrate the harvest festival the “Islamic way” with a worship of the rice spirits through a thanksgiving prayer in Dusun and Arabic, as well as by having a “Momogun Muslim” beauty queen pageant.
The organisation also sought donations to help develop Islam in Sabah and promised similar “Kaamatan Islamik” programmes to be held in more districts statewide.