KLANG: A day after Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah instructed the state Islamic authorities not to obstruct next month’s Japanese Bon Odori Festival, the Selangor Ruler has suggested that Datuk Idris Ahmad, the minister who recently asked Muslims to stay away from the event, attend the programme.

His Highness said this was for Idris to understand the difference between religion and culture.

In a statement posted on the Selangor Royal Office page on Facebook yesterday, Sultan Sharafuddin also said he did not want anyone, especially politicians, to touch on religious sensitivities for personal gain and popularity.

“His Highness urges them to not simply label something negatively without in-depth research.

“They have to also be fair when making public statements that involve communal harmony,’’ it said.

It added that Sultan Sharafuddin did not want Idris to use the Islamic Development Department (Jakim) as a platform to make confusing and inaccurate statements that could tarnish the department’s image and reputation.

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PAS vice-president Idris, who is the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of religious affairs, came under the spotlight after saying that Muslims should not attend the annual Bon Odori Festival as it had elements of another religion in it.

The festival, scheduled to take place at the Shah Alam Sports Complex on July 16, has been held in the state for decades as a social event for the Japanese community and businesses to inculcate goodwill with the locals.

Sultan Sharafuddin himself attended the event in 2016 accompanied by then Japanese ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyakawa and through his observation, found that the Bon Odori celebration did not involve religious elements or rituals, said the statement, which attached two pictures of His Highness gracing the event.

The statement said the Ruler also noted that whatever forms of culture practised by all communities in the world, had some connection with religion.

“Nevertheless, with the passage of time, these cultural practices no longer highlight the religious elements,’’ it said.

Sultan Sharafuddin also said the Bon Odori Festival was a cultural celebration that was being held in Selangor to strengthen ties between Malaysians and the Japanese community here.

“The festival became popular when many Japanese companies invested and opened their factories in Selangor.

“Given this, Bon Odori became a platform to introduce Japanese entertainment culture here to bridge ties between the two nations,” said the statement.

It added that Sultan Sharafuddin had also directed Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) and Shah Alam City Hall officers to attend the Bon Odori Festival to get a true picture of the event and ascertain that it did not tarnish the faith of Muslims.

His Highness also hoped the multiracial people of Selangor would continue living in tolerance, goodwill and harmony.

On Wednesday, Jais director Datuk Shahzihan Ahmad, in a statement issued after he was summoned for an audience at Istana Bukit Kayangan, said the Ruler had ordered the department not to prevent any individuals from attending the festival.

He added that His Highness was not in favour of any decisions taken hastily without an in-depth study and perusal.