Malaysia clerics approve 'poco-poco' line dance

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Malaysians will be allowed to perform a controversial "poco-poco" line dance after top clerics ruled that its benefits to health outweigh concerns about taste and decency.

The decision came after a mufti in the predominantly Muslim nation outlawed the dance in his state, saying it amounted to cult practices and that its crossed-shaped movement was associated with Christianity.

However, Abdul Shukor Husin, chairman of the country's National Fatwa Council, said Islamic experts had decided against a ban, paving the way for its free use.

"If they can adhere to the regulations... and if it can bring about positive impact to health, then we have no objection on that matter," he was quoted as saying by Bernama news agency after chairing a special meeting Friday.

Muslim women, however, have been reminded to not wear sexy clothes or to mix freely with men while dancing.

Harussani Zakaria, an elderly mufti from the northern state of Perak, declared that the "poco-poco" dance violated Islamic law and banned it.

Regardless of the Fatwa Council's decision the dance will remain banned in Perak as matters pertaining to Islam are covered by local law.

In Malaysia, many adults and children take part in the dance, which is considered a recreational activity to keep fit.

More than 60 percent of the nation's 28 million population are Muslim Malays and other faiths have expresed concerns of creeping Islamisation in this multi-racial country.

Norazliza Alias, a dance instructor said her students were mainly women who just "love to sweat with poco-poco movements and music."

"The dance I teach is not linked to any religion. My clients really have fun, with mothers bringing in their sons and daughters to join in," she said.

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.

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