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PAS: ‘“A good thing” tours are skipping Malaysia’

A spokesman for PAS, a hardline Islamist political party in Malaysia, has welcomed reports suggesting many international pop artists are giving the country a wide berth when routing their tours, saying a dearth of concerts will strengthen the moral fibre of Malaysian youth.

In an extraordinary article for party newspaper Harakah Daily, Riduan Mohamad Nor, a member of the PAS central committee, claims Malaysia’s Muslims are “saving the country” from “wild entertainment” – and that news of the cancellation of shows by Coldplay, Megadeth, Beyoncé, Celine Dion is a victory against the “spreading of the culture of entertainment”, which encourages God-fearing Malaysians to commit adultery, drink alcohol, take drugs, fight each other and indulge in other “vices” forbidden by conservative Islam.

Nor’s intervention comes after Reuters suggested late last year that international stars, “especially those known for risqué lyrics or revealing clothing”, are increasingly unlikely to choose to tour Malaysia.

According to a recent UN report, there is growing pressure for Malaysian Muslims, who make up 62% of the population, to adhere to a rigid, fundamentalist, Arabised version of Islam; consequently, said Darren Choy, chairman of the Recording Industry Association of Malaysia, the country will “not be the first choice for any act to tour” when in south-east Asia.

“Let those who worship international celebrities get their entertainment abroad”

That, writes Nor, is “a good thing especially for the […] the younger generation. We may be viewed negatively by some, but it can protect the society and the country.”

Concert promoters, he continues, “should know that Malaysia is not an entertainment hub.

“Let those who love entertainment, and worshipers of international celebrities, get their entertainment abroad. Go to any south-east Asian country to see those artists, but not in Malaysia.”

PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party), which holds 13 seats in Malaysia’s 222-seat House of Representatives, was last seen in IQ calling for the cancellation of a show by Selena Gomez, who it described as “too sexy” for Malaysia.


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UK schoolboy convicted over plans to attack Bieber show

A Welsh teenager has been convicted of planning to drive a car into a crowd of people in Cardiff in an Islamic State (Isis)-inspired terrorist attack.

According to the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), one of the 17-year-old’s targets was the Justin Bieber concert at the Principality Stadium (74,500-cap.) on 30 June. On the morning of the show – which was also targeted by a machete-wielding anti-Muslim extremist who reportedly threatened to “chop [up] all Muslims” – police raided the schoolboy’s house and discovered a large knife, a hammer and a ‘martyrdom’ letter pledging his allegiance to Isis as a “soldier of the Islamic State”.

The teenager had also downloaded two editions of an Isis propaganda magazine advising on how to commit a vehicle-based attack, while his internet history included searches for ‘Isis beheading video’, ‘Isis terrorist attacks’, ‘Police car UK armed response’, ‘how to create a terror attack’, ‘driving a lorry into a crowd of people’ and ‘what does getting shot feel like’. His Instagram password was ‘Truck Attack’.

Other potential targets included Cardiff Castle, the New Theatre, the Capitol shopping centre, the Central Library, the CPS says.

“This teenager’s behaviour over many months leaves no doubt that he intended to kill and maim as many people as possible”

At his trial at Birmingham crown court, the 17-year-old – who is a white Briton – accepted he had written the letter and placed the knife and hammer in his rucksack but denied intending to harm anyone.

“This teenager’s behaviour over many months leaves no doubt that he intended to kill and maim as many people as possible in an attack reminiscent of the incident on Westminster bridge,” says Sue Hemming, head of the CPS’s special crime and counter-terrorism division. “He was also posting extremist content online that could have encouraged others to commit terrorist acts and downloading instructions on how to carry out ‘lone wolf’ attacks.

“The CPS presented overwhelming evidence that he was prepared to die for Daesh [Isis]’s extremist worldview and he will now rightly face the prospect of a substantial prison sentence.”

The teenager will be sentenced at a later date.


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UK DJ on the run after ‘blasphemous’ Orbit show

A British DJ is wanted by Tunisian police and a nightclub shut down “until further notice” following a controversial performance at last weekend’s Orbit Festival in Hammamet.

Berlin-based Dax J has been sentenced to a year in prison for “offending public morality” for mixing the adhan – the Islamic call to prayer – into his set at the techno festival on Saturday, after video footage of the performance leaked online:

The governor of Nabeul, Mnaouar Ouertani, told AFP the club in which the offending performance took place, El Guitoune, will “remain closed” until further notice, and its manager has been detained for “violations against good morals and public outrage against [im]modesty. We will not allow attacks against the sacred.”

Around 98% of Tunisians are Muslims, and Islam is the state religion.

Dax J has since apologised. In a statement, Orbit says the DJ had “no intention of provoking your anger or offending you. It is clear, after his apologies, that Dax J is sincere and has no reason to hurt our dear festivalgoers. The sound of the call to prayer inspired him musically, and [he] found that tonality could touch us, which was the case. […] He did not think it would offend you.

“It is unfair that 20 seconds of music messes up a whole two-day event prepared over many long months.”

A recent report by NGO Freemuse revealed there was a sharp increase in “serious violations” of artistic freedom in 2016, with 1,028 attacks on musicians and other artists, including by the conservative musicians’ unions in Tunisia and Egypt.


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