LANGKAWI - A tourism group here has strongly objected to the suggestion that the island's iconic eagle statue is haram (forbidden by Islam) and should be demolished.
Langkawi Tourism Association president Zainuddin Kadir said the 12-metre high statue in Lang Square here had become a key tourist attraction for the past 20 years.
"It has become an icon for Langkawi for quite a long period, not as a place of worship or for activities that are contrary to Islam," he told Bernama.
On Friday, Perak deputy mufti Zamri Hashim had written in a local daily that it was forbidden in Islam to make full-bodied statues of living creatures such as humans or animals and it should be demolished.
This had since met with objections from netizens, with many expressing their disappointment and criticism of the proposal.
Zainuddin, who represents 8,000 LTA members, said he had written a letter to Zamri requesting further explanation on the matter.
"I am still waiting for his answer and willing to have a dialogue with him if necessary," he said.
Zainuddin also asked that the authorities take into consideration the welfare of the Langkawi community, most of whom depended on the tourism industry.
On Saturday, the Kedah Mufti's office said that it would consult the state Fatwa Council on the matter.
In Gombak, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the statue was symbolic of Langkawi as well as being a tourist attraction.
"Let us be more open about this - embrace that Malaysia is a multi-racial society and be inclusive about this," he told reporters after launching the Gombak MCA annual general meeting.