KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Muslim-majority Malaysia on Tuesday banned a planned concert by Erykah Badu after a photograph appeared showing the Grammy-winning singer with the Arabic word for Allah written on her body.
The American R&B singer was scheduled to perform Wednesday in Kuala Lumpur, but some Muslim groups said Badu was an unsuitable role model for young Malaysians after seeing a publicity photo of her with what appeared to be temporary tattoos of the word Allah on her bare shoulders.
A government committee that monitors concerts decided to forbid Badu's show because she has "offended the religious sensitivities" of Muslims by posing with such tattoos, an Information Ministry official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.
The 41-year-old, Dallas-born singer had already arrived in Malaysia. She can remain here as a tourist but will not be allowed to perform, the official said.
Information Minister Rais Yatim confirmed the decision on his Twitter account.
Razman Razali, managing director of the show's Malaysian organizer, Pineapple Concerts, said his company was in contact with government officials and hopes the ban will be reversed.
Badu is "worried and dismayed," Razman told The Associated Press. She was slated to perform in an auditorium that can hold about 3,000 spectators.
It was the first concert by a Western performer to be banned in Malaysia in recent years. Several other stars, including Gwen Stefani and Avril Lavigne, were warned by officials to dress modestly for their shows to proceed.
The photograph of Badu, which also appears on her official fan website, attracted attention after Malaysia's most widely read English-language daily, The Star, published it Monday.
On Tuesday, the newspaper apologized to Muslims for what it called an "oversight," saying it deeply regretted any offense sparked by the photo, which was "inadvertently published." The Home Ministry summoned The Star's editors to explain the photograph, which caused some Muslim activists to demand the newspaper's suspension.
- Erykah Badu