The month-long Oktoberfest’s abrupt cancellation – compelled by Islamic hardliners seeking blanket alcohol prohibition – has sparked a fresh political maelstrom for both Prime Minister Najib Razak and his chief opponent, the 92-year-old ex strongman Mahathir Mohamad.
While Najib for years has been under fire for his purported appeasement of Islamic fundamentalists, these bans are raising questions on whether the Mahathir-helmed opposition is in the pocket of religious conservatives as well, despite its public brand as a champion of secularism.
“We’ve … seen a marked increase in incidents of some kind of religious conflict or discord,” said Rashaad of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies.
He added: “These incidents are also happening ‘organically’ at a grassroots level without further prodding from [the ruling party], which indicates a people that are increasingly divided along religious and racial lines, alienated from one another.”
Last updated on 09/10/2017