Even before Janet Jackson’s top got undone before 140 million Super Bowl viewers, Islamic leaders were protesting upcoming scheduled appearances of one of Jackson’s pop contemporaries in Lebanon and Malaysia later this month.
Malaysia’s Muslim opposition party is calling for the cancellation of a Feb. 22 concert by Mariah Carey in Kuala Lumpur. Two days later, Carey performs her first concert in the Arab world when she appears in Beirut, Lebanon.
“Everyone knows Mariah Carey presents herself in a sexy, unacceptable and almost vulgar manner,” said Ahmad Sabki Yusof, a leader of the fundamentalist Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party’s youth wing. “She is not an appropriate role model for young Malaysians.”
To make matters worse, say the Islamists, Carey’s performance is scheduled for the start of the new year in the Muslim calendar – a religious holiday in Malaysia.
“Allowing such concerts promotes and condones values that are totally contrary to our way of life and our culture,” said Sabki. “We don’t want immoral values for our children, whether Muslim or not.”
The government’s position is to welcome Carey, but to advise her and other pop performers to “dress accordingly.” Carey has reportedly agreed to dress modestly for her concerts in the Muslim world.
While American pop music is popular in Malaysia, some performers have been banned in the past. Janet Jackson’s brother Michael, for instance, was prohibited from appearing in Selangor state in 1996, but a concert did take place in Kuala Lumpur. The most recent Western rock concert in Malaysia was by Linkin Park last year. The band was required not to scream too much or bare their chests during the concert.
Sabki’s group sent a formal letter to Tourism Minister Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir protesting Carey’s appearance.
“To allow a western artist, especially Mariah Carey, who is well-know for her sexy clothing, to perform on Awal Muharram is disrespecting the sensitivities of Mulsims and can be seen as challenging the status of Islam as Malaysia’s official religion,” said the letter. “We cannot accept such an immoral concert to be held on Awam Muharram or on any other days. … It is not only an insult to Muslims but will encourage moral degradation especially among youths.”
Besides the Kuala Lumpur and Beirut appearances, Carey is scheduled for concerts in Jakarta, Indonesia, Dubai and is working out details for one in Brunei. The Asian tour, which will also take her to China, is part of efforts to promote her latest album Charmbracelet.
Malaysia is a Southeast Asian nation with about 25 million people – 60 percent of whom practice Islam.