In Year of the Dog, Malaysian businesses play down, skirt dog decorations

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Picture of dog

Dogs are considered ‘unclean’ under Islamic tradition and Muslims are required to carry out a ritual of washing themselves if they are in contact with the animal. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 — Some Malaysian businesses are skirting around or playing down the portrayal of canines in Chinese New Year decorations this year, wary of offending the country’s Muslim majority in the Year of the Dog.

Dogs are considered “unclean” under Islamic tradition and Muslims are required to carry out a ritual of washing themselves if they are in contact with the animal.

Multicultural Malaysia has seen an increasing intolerance towards activities considered insulting to Islam, reflected in protests in recent years of beer festivals and concerts.

While Muslim Malays are the biggest ethnic group among Malaysia’s 32 million people, Chinese make up the second-biggest group with 23 per cent of the population.

One shopping mall in the popular Kuala Lumpur tourist area of Bukit Bintang did not depict dogs in its decorations ahead of the new year in February, focusing instead on the 10th anniversary theme of the centre, Pavilion Kuala Lumpur.

Director of Marketing Kung Suan Ai said religious and cultural sensitivities were a determining factor in conceptualising decorations. The mall attracts three million people of various backgrounds each month, she said.

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