|The spouses of foreign ministers learn the steps of the "poco-poco" dance|
Another restriction added to the pile of Islamic restrictions that are already in existence.
KUALA LUMPUR (AFP)— A top Islamic official in a Malaysian state has outlawed a popular line dance, claiming Friday that it contained cult practices and elements of "Christian rituals" unacceptable to Muslims.
Harussani Zakaria, mufti of the northern state of Perak, told AFP the "poco-poco" dance violated Islamic law.
"The poco-poco dance is actually a cult dance," he said.
"Our research indicates that the dance really originates from Jamaica and there are many Christian rituals to it as the moves reflect the making of a cross and so is unacceptable in Islam," he added.
"The dance is also practised in the Philippines and parts of Indonesia which have a Christian majority and so the dances have many Christian influences, which clash with Islam," Harussani said.
In Malaysia, many adults practise the dance, which is considered a recreational activity to keep fit.
The origin of the "poco-poco" dance is unclear but many believe it originated in Indonesia more than 20 years ago to accompany a song of the same name.
It is also a Jamaican word which relates to a wild dance under the possession of spirits.
But another top Islamic thinker Mohamad Asri Zainul Abidin said the dance should not be banned if it was done solely for health reasons.
"If it is merely for health reasons ... (and) is not linked to any false beliefs or mixed with immoral deeds like consuming alcohol, free sex and the like, then it is permissible under Islamic law," the former mufti of Perlis state said in his blog.
Malaysia's population is dominated by Muslim Malays, and the ethnic Chinese and Indian minorities are becoming concerned over rising "Islamisation" of the multicultural country.
In 2008, Malaysia's highest Islamic body, the National Fatwa Council, banned yoga for Muslims, saying it could erode their faith.
But the decision triggered uproar from moderate Muslims, prompting then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to wade into the row, saying Muslims could do yoga as long as it had no Hindu spiritual elements.