Hundreds of protesters marched in the Philippine capital Saturday to demand a ban on pop phenomenon Lady Gaga’s upcoming concerts, claiming her lyrics were anti-Christian.
About 50 riot police blocked a major Manila intersection to stop the marchers from reaching the shopping mall complex where the American singer is due to perform on May 21-22.
Lady Gaga has already faced opposition elsewhere on the Asia leg of her tour, including in Indonesia where police denied her show a permit amid threats from Islamic hardliners.
The Philippines is a deeply-religious Catholic majority country and many of the demonstrators Saturday were from the groupBiblemode International, whose founder said Lady Gaga’s lyrics were blasphemous.
Baptist preacher Benny Abante, a former member of the Philippine parliament said the song “Judas” mocked Jesus Christ.
“You can’t just say, ‘Okay, I’m an artist, I’ll make an artistic expression’,” Abante told about 300 fellow protesters.
“You stomp on our Lord while saying you’re a fame hooker, you’re a prostitute wench,” he said referring to the lyrics of the song.
In a statement the group called on Philippine President Benigno Aquino to stop the concerts “as this is a direct affront to the moral and religious values that our nation has been known for”.
Aquino spokeswoman Abigail Valte said the national government did not wish to wade into the issue.
The city government has already warned Lady Gaga to refrain from nudity, lewd conduct and blasphemy when her Asian tour reaches the Philippines, and said inspectors will be at the venue to ensure she does not overstep the mark.
Renen de Guia, president of the Lady Gaga concert’s local promoters Ovation Productions, said those who have purchased concert tickets were well aware her performance was all for fun.
“People have the freedom to express themselves artistically,” he said.
“Those who oppose what Lady Gaga is doing are not being forced to watch the concert,” he had said on ABS-CBN television on Friday.
In Indonesia Islamic hardliners said they were ready to die to stop Lady Gaga from performing in June. And during the star’s concert in Seoul in March a Christian group vowed to take action to stop young people from being “infected with homosexuality and pornography”.
But Lady Gaga has so far failed to tone down her performances, riding on to the stage on a mechanical horse, wearing a black bodysuit and an enormous black metal headpiece.