PETALING JAYA: Selangor’s Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah has called on religious affairs minister Idris Ahmad to attend the Bon Odori festival in Shah Alam to “understand the difference between religion and culture”.
In a Facebook post today, Sultan Sharafuddin said he did not want the minister to use the Islamic development department (Jakim) to make “confusing and inaccurate statements which could negatively affect the image and reputation of the department”.
Idris courted controversy on Tuesday when he told Muslims not to take part in the Japanese community’s annual Bon Odori summer festival, claiming that the celebration is “influenced by elements of other religions”.
The celebration, organised by the Japanese community in Malaysia, is making a return after a two-year hiatus because of Covid-19. It will be held in Shah Alam on July 16 and in Penang on July 30.
Sultan Sharafuddin reiterated that the festival had been held in the country for decades and encouraged unity between Malaysians and Japanese residents.
“His Highness attended such functions accompanied by the Japanese ambassador to Malaysia in 2016. In his observation, His Highness has never seen religious or ritualistic (syirik) performances (during the functions) that could distort the beliefs of those present,” the statement read.
He said the Selangor Islamic department and the Shah Alam City Council had been ordered to attend the festival to get a clear picture and ensure that it did not go against Islam.
He also said all cultural forms practised by communities in the world were related to religion but had shed their religious elements over the years.
“His Highness does not want any quarters, especially politicians, to use religious sensitivities for personal and political gain.
“He also urged the people not to arbitrarily label something as negative without an in-depth study. They also need to be fair in making statements that could affect social harmony,” the statement added.
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