KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — An annual beer festival in Kuala Lumpur has been axed due to information that militants were planning to sabotage the event, police said Thursday.
The Kuala Lumpur City Hall on Monday banned the “Better Beer Festival,” scheduled for Oct. 6-7 in a shopping mall, without giving any reasons. It followed protests from an Islamist party that called it a vice festival that could lead to criminal acts, rape and free sex.
The festival, which features craft beers from 43 breweries worldwide, has been held in Malaysia annually since 2012. The cancellation has angered many Malaysians, who slammed it as a sign of growing Islamization in the country.
National police chief Mohamad Fuzi Harun said police have information that unidentified militants were planning to sabotage the event because it was deemed to be against their struggle. He said that several other parties, which he didn’t name, were also planning to create chaos at the festival.
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“To avoid any incident beyond our control, police have to be proactive by objecting to the organizing of the festival in order to ensure public safety and security,” he said in a brief statement.
In a separate statement earlier Thursday, Fuzi said police had detained 41 foreign militant suspects this year alone. Since 2013, police in Malaysia have detained more than 300 people believed to be linked to the Islamic State group.
Opposition lawmaker Lim Kit Siang said many Malaysians viewed Fuzi’s statement with a pinch of salt and wondered if police were dragged into partisan politics. If the police intelligence is true, Lim said a ban on the event is not the answer as it would reflect poorly on police professionalism.
“If the Malaysian police cannot even handle a security or terrorist threat to the ‘Better Beer Festival,’ which would be held in a very localized and easily protected area, Malaysians would be entitled to ask how could the police face a major or full-scale terrorist threat,” Lim said in a statement.