In an ironic turn of events, scarcely a week after Malaysian singer Yuna set music blogs buzzing with a Pharrell-produced track, an impossibly sweet voice and what some observers described as a “Badu wrap,” the originator of the style amongst college girls and “coffee-shop chicks”–Ms. Erykah Badu herself–was banned from performing in Malaysia for a fashion faux pas that has been interpreted by some as offensive to Muslim sensibilities. As Entertainment Weekly reports:
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 Associated Press story goes on to note that the photo–also available on Badu’s official fan website and apparently altered for the official flyer (above)–generated controversy when it was published by The Star–Malaysia’s major English-language daily paper. The uproar is because, as Bikya Masr news site stated:
Tattoos in Islam are forbidden and the use of the Arabic word for God, “Allah,” is looked upon by many conservative Muslims as blasphemy.
The photo in question–a promotional shot created for her 2010 LP New Amerykah Part 2: Return of The Ankh–actually depicts Badu with painted symbols (not tats) from several of the great “world religions,” including Hebrew characters and other mystical symbols–a look directly inspired by a character from Alejandro Jodorowski’s psychedelic film Holy Mountain (see both the the offending shot and some stills from Jodorowski’s original after the jump). As of today, Badu remains in Malaysia on a tourist visa but for the moment will not be allowed to perform as scheduled because according to Information Minister Rais Yatim, the image had “triggered public criticism that could jeopardize national security and cause a negative impact to the government’s image.”
In a statement given to AP by Razman Razali, managing director of the show’s Malaysian organizer, Pineapple Concerts, the promoters are still holding out hopes that the ban will be reversed and described Erykah as “worried and dismayed.” The singer herself summarized the dilemma by tweeting: “I deserve it.” But perhaps the most fitting (if accidental) comment on the situation was the fact of it’s reportage by the Sydney Morning Herald at the url www.smh.com.