Minister defends Muslims right not to hold alcohol bottle

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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 – The viral video showing a customer at a 24-hour convenience store scolding two young cashiers, both Muslims, for not wanting to hold a beer bottle and scan the price, has come to the attention of Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Mujahid Yusof Rawa.

The Amanah vice-president, who is in charge of religious affairs, made it clear that Muslims are forbidden by Islam from having anything to do with alcohol.

Speaking at a dialogue session with students of Universiti Malaya last night, Mujahid said religious scholars have also taught that Muslims must not be involved in the grape-pressing process, for the making of wine, even if they do not consume the wine.

He therefore advised Muslims to avoid working in outlets that sell alcohol so as to avoid situations in which they may be forced to handle such beverages.

“If the role requires having to deal with those who buy alcohol, then take note of it when you start working at such places.

“Unless the job is a matter of necessity, where the staff has no other choice and may face financial difficulties, then that’s another story.

“Otherwise, my advise is to find another job,” Mujahid told the 300 students in attendance at the dialogue entitled “Rahmatan Lil ‘Alamin”.

Video sensitive to Muslims, says Mujahid

In the video which went viral last week, the man taking the video showed two beer bottles on the counter of a 7-11 in Johor Bahru, questioning the two young Muslim staff over their refusal to handle the bottles.

Mujahid said the video going viral was also a concern as the “issue was sensitive to Muslims”.

“The video shows the cashier being humiliated just because she refuses to handle the bottle,” he told the audience at the dialogue.

Moral policing SOP needs improvement

Meanwhile, speaking on the recent controversy over the moral policing by religious authorites, Mujahid said the standard operating procedures (SOP) for conducting raids and checking on suspected cases of close proximity (khalwat) will be improved.

“We have received many complaints over the actions of the officers involved, and in some cases, married couples were among those affected.

“So we have to find a way to correct and improve the way such operations are conducted. It is not a matter of letting such vices continue unchecked,” he said.

– NMT