Muslim-majority Malaysia has pulled the plug on a planned concert by US heavy metal group Lamb of God after Islamic authorities declared the band’s music religiously offensive.
The decision late Wednesday to deny permission for a scheduled September 28 show in the capital Kuala Lumpur prompted a retort by the Grammy-nominated band, which said its music had been “misinterpreted”.
A statement by the communications ministry said “it was found that the performances of the group offend religious sensitivities and the cultural values of Malaysian society”.
The ministry made the call amid pressure from the Department of Islamic Development of Malaysia, an official watchdog of Muslim values known by its Malay-language acronym Jakim.
Jakim’s chief Othman Mustapha issued a statement at the weekend saying the band’s show could offend both Muslims and Christians alike.
He noted the band’s frequent Christian references in its songs and said it also had uttered phrases from the Koran on stage.
Muslims make up 60 percent of multi-ethnic Malaysia’s 28 million people, while Christians account for about nine percent.
The decision came just two weeks after US heavy metal superstars Metallica played a concert in the country.
Malaysia is known for its relatively moderate version of Islam.
But conservatives occasionally cry foul over concerts by Western artists whom they accuse of promoting promiscuity, corrupting youths or offending religious sensitivities, though most concerts usually go ahead.
R and B superstar Beyonce Knowles twice cancelled past shows in Malaysia amid protests over her sexy image while American singer Erykah Badu had a concert cancelled by authorities last year after a photo appeared showing her with the Arabic word for “Allah” painted on her body.
Lamb of God’s song titles include “Walk with Me in Hell”, “More Time to Kill”, and “Fake Messiah”.
But the band said in a statement on its website that authorities were “publicly slandering us based on assumptions and shallow misinterpretation”, and apologised to its Malaysian fans.
“It is very evident (and a bit frustrating) that the groups, parties and powers that have taken the most offence to our music and lyrics have themselves only made a passing glance at the content and meanings of those songs,” it said.
The statement said more than 1,500 tickets had been sold for the show.