Carlsberg at the front line in Malaysian religious war
Breweries in Malaysia have been forced to step up security since the grenade attack by Islamic militants on the Kuala Lumpur facility of Carlsberg Malaysia, in July.
The attack is the most audacious assault on a non-Muslim institution since Islamicisation became a hot political topic following the arrest of deputy prime minister, Anwar Ibrahim on sodomy charges.
Members of the militant cult Al Ma'unah, or brotherhood of inner power, launched the grenade attack. The cult had seized weapons, including 100 assault rifles, 10 machine guns and 60 mortar shells, in a daring raid on two army bases days before.
The grenades were thrown into the Carlsberg facility late at night when it was empty and managing director Jorgen Bornhoft told just drinks.com that little damage had been caused.
But the attack was followed by a grenade attack on a Hindu temple while the cult held four hostages in the rural town of Sauk. Anti terrorist commandos raided the cult's camp in August and all 27 men captured have been charged with "waging war or attempting to wage war" against the king - a charge that carries the death penalty.
Bornhoft believes that the grenade attack was a one-off event and his business will not be affected by the rising Islamic tide in Malaysia. "I do not foresee it will influence business. Malaysia is strong and the economy is showing good fundamentals based on moderation. I respect that point of view [Islamic law prohibits the sale and consumption of alcohol] but I believe there will still be space for us here. There are no guarantees it will not happen again. But we are not worrying about that. My only worry was that my staff may have got hurt but it was late at night and nobody was there."
But increased interest in turning Malaysia into an Islamic state does worry many people, not least prime minister Mahathir bin Mohamad. And if the traditionalists win power then businesses like Carlsberg may be forced out of the country or face strict sales restrictions.
Mahathir's main opposition is the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party which has stripped support from the government over the past two years on the back of its promotion of an Islamic state. The party has tripled the number of seats in parliament and is running neck and neck with Mahathir's party in many parts of the country.
Non-Islamic institutions face a potentially tough decade in Malaysia as the country wrestles with this religious uprising. If the Pan Malaysian Islamic Party were to win power it would mean the introduction of Islamic law and, most likely, the outlawing of companies like Carlsberg Malaysia.
But, even if Mahathir keeps control, as seems probable, (he is Asia's longest serving leader) then there is a real risk of terrorist attacks on foreign companies, including of course the drinks industry.
The Al Ma'unah cult had come out of nowhere to launch its own bungled jihad but other groups may cause more damage. According to Malaysian police the cult claimed to receive spiritual enlightenment through martial arts, and was led by a former army private, Amin Mohammed Razali.
"Jihad is our way! Islam will be victorious," read cult brochures. The cult had also published pictures of members putting their hands in cauldrons of boiling oil, having logs rolled over their chests and touching a flaming torch.
Amin was called a master of "inner power" and according to the cult was able to make enemies "drop to their knees or fall down with the blink of an eye".
Sadly for the cultists their inner powers were no match for the Malaysian security forces but it is only a matter of time before more militants take up arms in the fight for an Islamic state.
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