Beer imported from Middle East not halal, Muslims warned

THE Johor Government has warned Muslims against consuming an imported beer that has been branded halal (fit for Muslim consumption).


“The halal classification for the beer was issued by a private company and lab tests have certified that it contains more than the permitted amount of alcohol,” state Religious Committee chairman Datuk Zainal Abidin Osman said.


He added, however, that the state Islamic affairs department could not act against the parties importing the beer into Johor.


“Unlike agencies such as the Customs Department, we do not have the authority to restrict the import of the product,” he said in reply to Jaafar Hashim (BN - Senggarang), who wanted to know what the state government was doing to curb young Muslims from openly drinking liquor, including the so-called halal beer.


Zainal Abidin said those prosecuted for consuming alcohol could be slapped with a fine of not more than RM3,000 or be jailed for up to two years, or both.


“Those found selling and buying alcohol, however, face a maximum fine of RM5,000 or jail term of up to three years, or both,” he said, adding that the state government was pushing for a harsher sentence for those who flout the law.


“The state government has also suggested the setting up of a rehabilitation centre for hardcore offenders to help them reform and stay away from repeatedly breaking syariah laws.”

Zainal Abidin said that last year, 301 Muslims were booked in Johor for consuming alcohol.

“Up to May this year, 13 have been caught for the offence,” he said.

The National Fatwa Council said earlier this week that the so-called halal beer was regarded illicit.


The issue arose after a newspaper reported on May 28 that the liquor, imported from a Middle East country and sold at between RM3 and RM5 a bottle, had become increasingly popular among Muslims in Johor.


Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom was reported the following day as saying that the beer contained 0.5% alcohol while the National Fatwa Council allowed only 0.01%.