Horror films in Malaysia irk Islamic scholars

The preachers, called "ustaz" are shown appeasing spirits of ghosts in many horror films that are made locally and are popular with the cine-goers. Islamic scholars and preachers have called on film directors and scriptwriters to consult religious experts "to protect the faith of Muslim viewers", New Straits Times reported Monday.

"An ustaz's role has become so cliched in local films that they are shown as a person that wards off spirits and ghosts, while their real task is to guide the community to the right path," Universiti Putra Malaysia's (UPM) Islamic Centre lecturer Mohammed Azhahari Yusuf said.

"An ustaz should be seen as a preacher who encourages Muslims to do good on earth," he said, following the proliferation of local horror movies revolving around ghosts and spirits of late.

He said the misrepresentation occurred because most directors or scriptwriters of local horror films did not have an indepth knowledge of Islamic missionary work and did not know how to include such elements in their films.

An independent Islamic preacher, Daud Che Ngah, said it was inappropriate to dish out horror movies to Muslims as this could negatively influence their beliefs and practices.

"The elements of horror and violence cause the public, especially children, to fear ghosts and spirits depicted in the movies rather than god, and this should not happen because it will weaken the minds of Muslims," Ngah said. Muiti-racial Malaysia is an Islamic nation with a majority population practising Islam.

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