JAKARTA: Indonesian police on Tuesday refused to allow pop phenomenon Lady Gaga to perform in Jakarta after hardliners vowed to mobilise thousands of supporters against the “devil’s messenger”.
The show planned for June 3 in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority country “will have to be cancelled”, national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution told AFP.
“We will not issue a permit for the Lady Gaga concert in Jakarta,” he said.
Indonesia’s Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) had mounted protests in the capital, vowing to intercept the “Poker Face” singer at the airport and ensure she does not enter the country.
“We’re very glad the police stopped this moral destroyer from coming to this country, where we believe in God. Of course we stand against her – she only wears panties and a bra,” FPI Jakarta chairman Habib Salim Alatas told AFP.
“She is very dangerous for our young generation. She has even said herself that she’s the devil’s messenger,” he said after the FPI had threatened to bring thousands onto the streets.
Alatas said he had seen Lady Gaga refer to herself as the devil’s messenger on Twitter and Facebook, although no reference to the devil was sighted on either of her accounts Tuesday.
There was no immediate reaction from Lady Gaga, who has the world’s biggest following on Twitter, but her fans, known as “little monsters”, took to social media in their thousands.
Theithooker tweeted: “The only one that needs to be banned is FPI itself. They’re embarrassing this country on a daily basis.”
Fans set up a new Twitter hashtag called “#IndonesiaSavesGaga” to try to get the police decision overturned.
But another little monster, DanielZiv, wrote: “It’s not a matter of #IndonesiaSavesGaga, it’s more like whether Gaga can save Indonesia.”
Big Daddy Productions, the promoters, have already sold more than 50,000 tickets and declined to confirm whether the show, part of Lady Gaga’s “Born This Way Ball” world tour, had been officially cancelled.
Another national police spokesman said the force had “no problem with Lady Gaga” but could not issue a permit without a letter of recommendation from the Jakarta police, who “have decided not to do that”.
The Jakarta city police said it received objections to the show by the National Ulema Council, Indonesia’s top Islamic body, and other community leaders saying the star “doesn’t deserve the attention of so many people”.
“They said her outfits are too sexy, indulgent and erotic,” said Jakarta police spokesman Rikwanto, who goes by one name.
Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of Islam.
Home Affairs Minister Gamawan Fauzi said the police did the right thing “to protect Indonesia”.
“There would be more negatives than positive in allowing her to perform here,” he said. “So I respect the police decision as the right move.”
But Ahmad Basarah of parliament’s legal commission, which has the authority to question police decisions, said that while he supported preserving Indonesian values, the decision to withhold a permit was discriminatory.
“The police must also have the courage to stand up to other groups that want to display vulgar culture, like some from the Middle East who want Islamic law here that goes against our state ideology and democracy,” he said.
Lady Gaga has faced opposition elsewhere on the Asia leg of her tour.
The Korean Association of Church Communication vowed in March to take “concerted action to stop young people from being infected with homosexuality and pornography” during the star’s concert in Seoul.
But she has not toned down her performances. In Seoul, Hong Kong and Tokyo, she rode on to the stage on a mechanical horse, wearing a black bodysuit and an enormous black metal headpiece.
Lady Gaga will perform in Taipei on Thursday and Friday, and will then head to Manila, Bangkok and Singapore. She was due to play in Jakarta after that, before flying south to New Zealand and Australia.
In the past, performers such as Beyonce and the Pussycat Dolls have been allowed to perform in Indonesia provided they dressed more conservatively.
Concerts by Western artists in Indonesia’s fellow Islamic neighbour Malaysia have also stirred controversy. Beyonce was forced to cancel a 2007 event there after conservative Muslim groups threatened protests.
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