For the first time in recent years, an American performer has been banned from performing in the country of Malaysia.
Erykah Badu was scheduled to perform in the capital Kuala Lumpur when a semi-nude photograph surfaced of the singer with the word “Allah” written on her body in Arabic. The photo originally appeared on Badu’s website, but Malaysia’s The Star, which is the country’s largest English paper, published the photograph on Monday.
The public outcry was widespread: Muslim groups said that Badu is a poor role model for Malaysian women and The Star apologized for publishing the photo and is now facing possible suspension by the government. A government body found the photograph “an insult to Islam and a very serious offense,” adding that the photo “triggered public criticism that could jeopardize national security and cause a negative impact to the government’s image,” and ordered that Badu never perform in the country.
Erykah Badu’s reputation for pushing the envelope with nudity and sacred ideas is just as strong as Malaysia’s reputation for not playing games when it comes to public dissent and foreigners disturbing the country’s way of life. One has to wonder what the promoters of the concert expected in booking her, and especially what The Star expected once they published a photo that seems to have caused such universal disapproval.
What do you think? Does it make sense for Malaysia to ban Erykah Badu over this photo?