Unidentified militants planned to sabotage an annual beer festival cancelled this week by authorities in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur who cited “political sensitivities” for the move, police said on Thursday.
On Monday, the authorities scrapped the two-day event, now in its sixth year, after an Islamist party objected on the grounds that it could lead to criminal acts, rape and free sex.
Around 6,000 people had been expected to attend the “Better Beer Festival”, showcasing craft beers from at least 11 countries, according to posts on social media site Facebook by the organisers and domestic news reports.
Protests against events considered “Western” and un-Islamic are common in Muslim-majority Malaysia, and are usually led by the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and conservative Islamist NGOs.
“There was information that exposed plans by militants who would carry out sabotage on the festival, because it is deemed as something that goes against their struggles,” said Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun.
“To avoid any incident beyond our control, the police had to be proactive, by objecting to the organising of the festival,” he added in a brief statement, without naming any suspected groups.
Since 2013, Malaysia has detained more than 300 people with suspected links to Islamic State in its crackdown on militancy.
The police have arrested seven Philippine men on suspicion of involvement in the activities of the Abu Sayyaf militant group, which has pledged loyalty to Islamic State.