Malaysia: Exhibit 'detrimental to Islam' halted

A Malaysian state has closed down a controversial museum exhibition on ghosts, ghouls and supernatural beings after Islamic clerics declared it was detrimental to Muslims' faith, newspapers reported Saturday. The exhibition at the state museum in southern Negeri Sembilan has drawn some 25,000 visitors since it opened March 10 but it has also attracted criticisms from religious scholars who charged the show was un-Islamic and based in fantasy, the New Straits Times reported. Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Rais Yatim has also disapproved of the exhibition, saying it was not beneficial to the community. But the museum has claimed its aim was to educate the public. The exhibition capitalizes on widespread fascination in Malaysia with otherworldly creatures from local legends and mythology. Reports said artifacts on display included carcasses of vampires and a mythical phoenix bird. The Negeri Sembilan state government, however, decided to halt the show Friday after the National Fatwa Council ruled it was forbidden in Islam as it could undermine Muslims' faith, the Star newspaper reported.