Tue, 28 Feb 2012 06:30:07 GMT | By Amirul Ruslan

Erykah Badu concert cancelled after Allah tattoo controversy

'Allah tattoos offend religious sensitivities': Minister of Information

Erykah Badu performs during the 2006 VH1 Hip Hop Honors ceremony in New York City, October 7, 2006. REUTERS, Lucas Jackson (© REUTERS, Lucas Jackson)

Ministry of Information: Erykah Badu concert cancelled for 'offending religious sensitivities'

KUALA LUMPUR - Minister of Information Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim announced today that R&B star Erykah Badu's scheduled performance tomorrow night has been cancelled.

In a tweet posted from his account (@dsuraisyatim) at 2.06PM today, Rais said in Malay the performer's concert was canceled for 'touching on religious sensitivities' and failing to meet 'Malaysian cultural values' as well as guidelines set by PUSPAL, the central agency for application for filming and performance by foreign artistes.

This follows the announcement that three top editors from local English daily The Star were called up by the Home Ministry over their publication of a photograph of the American singer yesterday.

The Star published a photograph of Badu with two tattoos with the Arabic word for 'Allah', or God, in a profile piece in their Star2 entertainment section yesterday. Malay groups opposed allowing the R&B singer to perform following publication of the photograph.

READ MORE: Local celebs react to Erykah Badu cancellation - photos

Several Muslim groups in Malaysia consider the word 'Allah' sacred and have protested the use of the word by non-Muslims in the past. Tattooing is similarly taboo.

In response to the publication of the photo, the Home Ministry called up the managing editor, chief news editor and senior editor of the English newspaper to explain why they published the picture. A show-cause letter was to be issued as well, demanding a written explanation in seven days.

The Star published an apology saying, "A photograph of American singer Erykah Badu with tattoos of various symbols, including the Arabic word for Allah, was inadvertently published in Star2 today. We sincerely apologise to Muslim readers for this oversight."

Badu's concert was scheduled for tomorrow night at KLCC Plenary Hall. Users on social networking site Twitter reported that she was already in Kuala Lumpur and had been seen in a major shopping center in the city.

Erykah Badu: "I understand"

UPDATE 29/2/2012 5:43PM: At a press conference held this afternoon at Plenary Hall KLCC, organizers Pineapple Concerts confirmed that the concert was cancelled after PUSPAL revoked their license, despite working "working up to the 11th hour to rectify the issues."

Badu said that she hoped to meet the minister to hear out his concerns and misgivings regarding the matter, defending Pineapple Concerts for their respectful conduct throughout the controversy.

Pineapple Concerts marketing director Razman Razali and Badu explained that the photograph used by The Star had not originated from the media kit provided by the organizers. Referring to the controversy, Razman said, "The Star should have known better, to know what to run."

Badu also pointed out that she had no tattoos and the 'Allah tattoo' at the center of the controversy was body art from a photoshoot referencing "The Painted Lady", a character from the 1973 surrealist film The Holy Mountain by Chilean-French filmmaker Alejandro Jodorowsky. In the film, "The Painted Lady" was a character who had various names of God etched on her skin.

When asked, the American singer said that she knew the meaning of the symbol, and that her photo had included the symbol for other names of God, including Jehovah and Yahweh. She said the interpretation of the Jodorowsky imagery was, "We are all one."

Minister of Information Datuk Seri Utama Rais Yatim tweeted this evening that the Cabinet agreed with PUSPAL's move to cancel the concert. In an earlier tweet, he reiterated that the cancellation was justified.

Feb 28, 2012 3:22AM
I'm a conservative Muslim guy but this is freaking ridiculous, if you feel offended by something tell them! don't cancel a full show... Personally I'm not a fan of hers, nor do I go to concerts but this is ridiculous, if the government wants to cancel shows at least do so by explaining why compromises for mistakes done by those who don't know better are not made instead of blocking something entirely...
Feb 28, 2012 2:20AM
Hello! We're being overly sensitive here!
Feb 28, 2012 8:44AM

I am not Muslim, I am of the non-muslim Malaysian minority. I think that what the singer did was not with an intent to insult the religious/cultural sensitivities of Malaysians.


However there is no wrong in the local muslims taking offence at the singer's tattoos.


Having said that, I am of the opinion that the government shouldn't have just cancelled the show. The singer should have been advised of the mistake. Since the images are not recent, the Malaysian government should have rejected the concert upon application by the organizers. Why did they make this decision at the very last minute? Also, I understand that a certain NGO was set to receive some charity benefit on first day sales on this event. Now that opportunity is gone. I think there is more to this than meets they eye.


Please take note that this very minister was in office when certain quarters dragged a cow's head all across the main gates of the country's capital administration building. Not a peep came out of this minister.


So in my honest opinion, standing up for one's cultural beliefs is acceptable. However the government need to approach it in a more intelligent manner.



Feb 28, 2012 3:00AM

Haha..BohemianChick.​..welcome to our 21st country... This is  why we don't get any international superstar to perform in this country.

Save your money and spend it at oversea for concert. Here is hopeless....


Feb 28, 2012 6:52AM

Malaysia international well known ,, Corruption OK (Halal ) $$$$$$$$$$$$$

Anything or something or sometime or somehow or somewhat or somewhere or someone have to do with islam is Haram ( Ban )

Feb 28, 2012 7:26AM
Religious fanaticism and intolerance is incompatible with a democratic society
Feb 28, 2012 5:02AM
Hello and good evening everyone in MSN.  I am not a fan of hers either. But we should show to the world at the same time that we are also forgiving when the innocents commit something superficial like a Tatoo with Allah in it. Just like Ibrahim Ali giving WHITE ANG POWS to Chinese old folks. Though we are angry, we did demand his 'pound of fresh'.

In this case, we should give her a verbal warning and demand that she covers the Taboo's wording before she is allowed to perform. Hence, by doing this, it will sent the massage across the world, that Muslims in Malaysia has its own customs.

By banning her performance at the eleventh hour is causing inconvinence to the Organizers but also Erykah Badu who happens to be in the country in time for her performance tomorrow. Why not allow the show to proceed, like what you did by giving a warning to the Editors of Star Newspaper?
Feb 28, 2012 5:08AM
whr's ur rule? y so last minute? r these ppl crazy? not on anybody's side but this is crazy, cancelling sumthg so last minute.. da whole thing.. i think they forgotten when they allowed PCD to perform in really skimpy outfit, but nobody offended n accepted? hye, wake up, if u dun want sumthg, make it clear at the first stage, dun make it last minute.. so typical Msian style, last minute.. this is embarassing to the international eye.. wat r they trying to prove..
Feb 28, 2012 3:33AM

Do not perform in this country unless you can bring along  'rare earth' here...

No to Lynas. Save Malaysia.

Feb 28, 2012 12:56PM
you see it is not her fault that the picture appeared in the star for all that matter. it must've been taken a long time ago. but the cancellation is for her safety. we never know what fanatic Muslims group will  do to retaliate and jeopardize her safety during the concert. 

on other hand, i am offended how people didn't take offence on that tattoo. seriously, depicting 'Allah' on a half-naked body is derogatory to Muslim. while it may be acceptable for non-Muslim to tattoo a cross or 'Jesus' name on their body, but no to Muslim. we as a Malaysian all know this.

Again, that picture might not be of recent, but the existence of that picture in a first place is an insult. how do you expect Malaysian Muslim will respond to a singer who make fun of their God. tolerance has its limit, on matters regarding faith, no religion will want their God to be insult. 'Allah' and 'Muhammad' is off limit. you can be as modern thinker and open-minded as you want, but once your God is make fun off, I (if not you people) am offended. If other Malaysian Muslims and artists are okay with this, you will see how far they will cross the line. Next thing they will take picture of tattoo-ed 'Allah' or 'Muhammad' on other God-knows bodypart. 

I think it is a correct stand for Rais to cancel the concert for reasons mentioned above. we will not tolerate people insensitive to other religion. and for heaven sake stop bringing Lynas issue in the picture. let's argue this issue per se.
Feb 29, 2012 4:50AM

Another good show to divert the focus of malaysian on the rare earth issue, this is what our leaders and politician are doing always, they are free all the time to handle something like this, tax payers maney were spend for these "tattoo spotter" politician, what a shame, for me i don't even care, come on malaysian, be matured, why do we care, the concert is on or off, it's not gonna be a big deal, it's just a silly show. who cares? like you are the biggest fan of badu? well thats ridiculous. nobody is right or wrong, they do something that insult the muslim, then the muslim stop them, as easy as that. no issue. i'm not with the government, but it's just a show a funny show for me.

Feb 29, 2012 4:56AM
Let this show you how primitive this country still is.. Their mentality is so backdated its shocking. Over a word and they want to cancel a superb performance by a great performer. Music is what brings people together.. Lets all hope and pray that our current government gets kick out int he next elections. Their screwing up the country and embarrassing us Malaysian.. Dear Erykah, remember that you will always have our support and we are truly sorry for having a very sad government who still lives back in the stone age era.. No offence, but If the Muslims have something against the concert..  its simple. Just don't go for the concert. Stay ay home and let the majority of people here who are Malaysian go for the concert, cause we want to. And we are a majority.. And thanks again to the government for embarrassing us.. again.. You rock!!!
Mar 2, 2012 3:47AM
I'm I right?
1.  The word "Allah" is arabic name for God (the Almighty)
2.  The word "Allah" predates Islam. It has been in use before islam came into existence
3.  The word "Allah" is collectively used by muslims,  Bahá'ís, Arabic-speaking Christians, Mizrahi Jews and Sikhs to address God.
4.  In pre-Islamic Arabia, Allah was used by Meccans as a reference to the creator-god, possibly the supreme deity
5. Allah is merciful and forgiving
Mar 2, 2012 12:57AM

Allah is the name given to God by the primitive Arabs long before Islam.

But now Muslims claim possession to the word , Allah.

Can you claim such possession?

Does God accept this name?

God may not accept the name. Is God angry???


Muslim try to create conflict over anything to show its power.

Is it a political ploy to attract "Muslim voters"


God don't belong to any religion.

If God belongs to a religion, then God is NOT Almighty.


Lao tse said, "A name that can be named is NOT the real name."



Feb 28, 2012 11:01PM

2ndcitizen  I agree with mat noh. If u r really up to it, why dont we meet up so that i can settle this my way. Be ready not to work for the next few weeks though. U wanna resort to racial critism right? To hell with u...So are u up for it? Talking rubbish on the web are for cowards like u.


Feb 29, 2012 9:46PM
A good show indeed. ;)  It feels good to see some of you individuals actually are aware of the games played by governments and the so called religious leaders. But the greatest show was world war 2. The pope blessed Mussolini, the high priest of germany blessed hitler, the archbishop of england blessed churchill, whatever christian sect blessed america. Then the whole world was "blessed" with war. Remember? Japan was seriously "blessed". And once the war was over everyone thought there would be peace. Peace is just a fiction since then. Instead of peace all countries are preparing for another war, giving the "just in case" or "defense" or "dun wan to look weak" excuses. New super advanced weapons are being researched everyday. Weapons are evolving. But the human mind still 2000 years old at least. Same anger, jealousy, lust, greed whatnot, regardless of which religion u come from U all share the same disease. The beliefs are just a repetition and a great misunderstanding that truth is transferable. Be aware that repetitions can become true regardless of whether it is really true or not. 
Feb 28, 2012 8:39PM
Do people actually know it's a TEMPORARY tattoo that she did for just that photo shoot?
Feb 28, 2012 11:42PM
But just cos I think this type of rubbish should be banned doesn't mean I agree with extremist/sectarian ideas of monopolizing God's name (in whatever language) for one sect or faction only - after all, many words in Malay for instance, and I'm not saying all - but many - are derived from other languages be these Sanskrit/Hindi, Portuguese/Latin, and Arabic just to name a few. Therefore, no one has the right to tell others which root words they are allowed or are not allowed to use - everyone is free to speak Malay if they can or want to learn. If I knew more Malay I would be writing my post in it but I'm just learning as I'm an international.
Feb 28, 2012 12:46PM

With a news like this,



Mar 7, 2012 2:55AM
Indonesia being the largest Muslim nation allowed Eryka Badu's show to go on. As a child, I thought Malaysia was much more advance then Indonesia and Thailand but now I know that our mentality is that of the Afghanistani and Pakistani ruling parties. Don't get me wrong, not condemning the people but the government.....fanatics.....
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