The Lady Gaga concert ban by Indonesian authorities has split the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation as various institutions have come out to support or denounce the move.
The international artiste’s upcoming Jakarta concert on June 3 was cancelled by the National Police Tuesday, following strong protests from Indonesia’s hard-line Islamist groups. However, the concert’s promoters are still determined that the show will go on.
Lady Gaga, known for her outrageous costumes, was lambasted by hardcore Islamist groups, as “dangerous influence” to Jakarta’s youth, and that she “teaches fans to worship the devil”.
“We will stop her from setting foot on our land. She had better not dare spread her satanic faith in this country,” Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) Jakarta chairman Salim Alatas was quoted as saying by newswire agency Agence France Presse.
He added that FPI members would mobilize 30,000 supporters to forcibly prevent Lady Gaga from stepping off her plane.
However, the Indonesian Council of Churches has thrown its support behind Lady Gaga’s concert in Jakarta, saying that the diva should be allowed to perform because of freedom of expression.
“Don’t teach our young generation with pseudo-formality by wearing good outfits but being bad on the inside,” Gomar Gultom, secretary-general of the Indonesian Council of Churches, was quoted as saying in response to the complaints against Lady Gaga.
In the midst of rising pressure from Indonesia’s hardcore Islamist groups, the National Police said it accepted reccommendations by the Jakarta Police on not issuing a permit for the Lady Gaga concert. In the Jakarta Post, the Jakarta Police chief inspector Gen Untung S Rajab said the move to prevent the concert from being held is to “protect the nation’s culture”.
“The reasons behind the police’s refusal to issue a permit for the show not only include security issues but also the police’s duty to protect the nation’s culture,” he was quoted as saying.
Nevertheless, promoters of the concert said its permit application process was still ongoing, and that sales of tickets to the concert was brisk. Untung said if the promoters insisted on going on with the show, the police would have to forcefully close it down as it was deemed unlawful.
Over the years, several international artists have cancelled their scheduled concerts in Indonesia amidst pressure from hard-line groups that disapproved of either their dress or reputation, but Lady Gaga is the first to have been barred by the authorities.
Indonesia, which has a 200 million Muslim population, has also faced several incidents of extremism over issues concerning religions other than Islam and homosexuality.
Recently, hard-line Islamic organization members in Indonesia stormed a book discussion by Canadian author Irshad Manji, breaking windows and doors and beating up participants in protest of the book.
The hard-liners claimed Manji’s book “Allah, Liberty and Love” promoted homosexuality and was blasphemous toward Islam. News reports said the author herself was injured at the attack, but no police were seen at the venue until the incident was well over.