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Staff / September 1st, 2009 / No Comments

Malaysian Muslims are now permitted to attend a concert by US hip-hop band Black Eyed Peas, organisers said Tuesday, reversing an earlier stand which saw Muslims banned from the event.

The Malaysian website for the September 25 event, sponsored by the Guinness brewery, had specified it was “restricted to non-Muslims aged 18 and above,” triggering controversy in the multicultural nation.

Muslim Malays, who dominate Malaysia’s population, are not allowed to drink alcohol while members of the Chinese and Indians minorities are not subject to such restrictions.

However, in an about-face, concert organisers Artists World Entertainment said that anyone was free to attend the event which “is open to all individuals aged 18 and above.”

The organisers did not give any reason for the change in its position.

“As a reputable concert organiser with years of experience showcasing international acts in Malaysia, we will continue to adhere strictly to the conditions as stated in our licensing approvals,” they said in a statement.¬†

The furore is the latest in a series of cases which have raised fears that Islamic law is on the rise in Malaysia, threatening its secular status.

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno, a 32-year-old part-time model and mother of two, was sentenced to six strokes of the cane by an Islamic court in July for drinking beer.

The government said the punishment was “too harsh” and threatened Malaysia’s reputation as a moderate nation. It said the sentence would be put on hold while a review was conducted.

There have also been moves to limit the sale of alcohol in Selangor, the state which surrounds the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

Performances by foreign bands frequently come under fire in Malaysia, particularly from the conservative Islamic party PAS.

The PAS has called for Danish band Michael Learns to Rock to be banned from performing on September 5, saying it was an insult to Muslims during the fasting month of Ramadan. [Source]

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