Indonesian organizers fight for Lady Gaga gig
Lady Gaga’s Indonesian promoters have vowed to fight to save her show, despite police denying it a permit and Islamic hardliners threatening “chaos” if she comes to the mostly Muslim nation.
Production company Big Daddy reached out on Twitter to Lady Gaga fans, known as “little monsters”, saying it still hoped to find a way to hold the June 3 event after already selling more than 50,000 tickets to the concert in Jakarta.
“Little monsters, be patient please. We will keep you updated. We are still fighting,” the firm tweeted, in a country that ranks among the world’s biggest Twitter users.
But the Islamic Defenders Front (FPI) said it would create havoc if Lady Gaga were allowed to perform in Indonesia, calling her the “devil’s messenger” who wears only a “bra and panties” on stage.
“If Lady Gaga still wants to perform here, go ahead. But please be prepared for chaos in Jakarta. We are ready to be thrown to jail and be killed — we will do anything to stop it,” said FPI Jakarta chairman Habib Salim Alatas.
Ninety percent of Indonesia’s 240 million people identify themselves as Muslim, giving the country the largest Islamic population in the world, but the vast majority practise a moderate form of the religion.
In the past, pop stars including Beyonce and the Pussycat Dolls have been allowed to perform in Indonesia on condition they wore more conservative dress than usual.
The police announcement spurred a flurry of criticism that Islamic hardliners have too much power over public matters.
“The biggest threats to this country are not Western artists but the corrupt government, including the police and FPI,” a reader of the Jakarta Globe daily posted in a comment on the newspaper’s website.
Another reader identifying as Bilbo Baggins wrote: “Does Indonesia want to be part of the global community or a religious backwater of ignorance?”
Both comments were in English.
Big Daddy spokesman Arif Ramadhoni said they were discussing the concert with several parties, declining to go into specifics.
“We are still in the process of finding a way to do it, and we ask for everyone’s patience and forgiveness for the trouble,” said Ramadhoni.
The national police showed no signs of budging on Wednesday, saying they could not grant the star authorisation without a recommendation from Jakarta police.
“We still deny the organisers the permit. The Jakarta police have said they do not recommend theLady Gaga performance here, and they are the ones responsible for security, so there’s no way around it,” said national police spokesman Saud Usman Nasution.
The Jakarta police announced this week they would not recommend a permit after hearing opposition from “several community leaders”, including the country’s top Islamic body, the National Ulema Council.
Indonesia is seen as normally more moderate on such issues than neighbouring Malaysia, where Beyonce was forced to cancel a 2007 event after conservative Muslim groups threatened protests.
Lady Gaga has already faced opposition elsewhere on the Asia leg of her tour.
The Korean Association of Church Communication vowed in March to take action to stop young people from being “infected with homosexuality and pornography” during the star’s concert in Seoul.
Even so 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 to New Zealand and Australia.